India is a very young country in terms of demographics and in the next years they will be at the top of the world statistics.
However, society is changing and the needs to take care for elderly is growing. In the last years I have observed that in many cities elderly homes have been set up. It’s not just the youth growing, but there is growing also the number of elderly people in a different surrounding.
With more wealth in the cities the young generation has developed also a different life style: traveling, careers on a national and international level with the need to be flexible, living often independently from the families.
There are a lot of elderly people who need care which in the past – due to very strong family boundaries – has happened at home in the families. But it’s changing. With the dissolution of these straight family boundaries new models of elderly care are needed. In the rich environments there are solutions which can be paid, e.g. personal care through third parties.
But due to rapid urbanization and all these social developments also people from poor backgrounds need different care models, too. Setting up elderly homes on various levels therefore is a logical response.
A high risk group of elderly is often living on the streets
There is a growing number of elderly people at risk – often there is no home for them anymore: they spend their life on the streets of he big cities and town, wandering around, often without any care, very reduced hygienic conditions and begging for their daily food.
Some families have decided to disconnect from their old family members for several reasons, other old people might not have any family members close by any more. This happens mainly in the cities and big towns.
A visit at an elderly home
We visited an elderly home run by a NGO where ten women with a poor background are “at home” today. They have no contacts to their families anymore. Two years back the home has been built by a NGO. It’s a small place and they would need a bigger house. However, the women are all well dressed, sitting with smiles in theirs chairs and waiting for our visit.
Building a generation bridge
The NGO director explains:”We run also an orphanage and we plan to build a generation bridge while bringing these elderly women in contact with the children, at least once a week. They can benefit a lot from each other.”
How is life working in the elderly home?
They help each other. They stay together with other in the rooms. They fight to each other – sometimes, when it comes to some basic and personal wants. Dementia and diseases, group conflicts are there – there are coming together different characters like elsewhere in the world. They have a lot of good moments together.
All in all: They have found their new home – there is no doubt about it.
There is one care taking person staying with them – day and night. A cook prepares food for them on a daily basis. The NGO makes sure that they get basic medical care. During the day the women do small handicrafts, help to clean and stay in groups together while discussing and doing some exercises. Depending on their health status they participate more or less actively in the things happening around them.
“We are very happy today that you come for a visit. No one of my family is coming to see me. But you have done all that travel around the world and you have find the time to come here. We are very thankful for your visit,” one old lady tells us. She and the other women are smiling. They tell us small stories, life memories, about their children, about better times. When we ask them about their ages many don’t know. They have never known their exact birth dates. Or they have forgotten. There are a lot of interactions among them.
There are a lot of emotional moments.
We don’t know what to say. Life can be tough sometimes. But it’s worse if it looses dignity and is run in isolation. These women have been lucky. Because they have been able to reach and find this home, a new home and “family”.
Jfyi: In case you want to support the NGO to build additional homes let me know.