According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) 2017 report, the population of senior citizens in India will rise from eight percent in 2015 to 19 percent in 2050. The population of the elderly in the country will have grown by 270 percent. As per the report, the young India of today will turn into a rapidly aging society in the decades to come.
Another phenomenon that the country is witnessing, along with its growing elderly population is the rise in old age homes. In 2016, the number of old age homes was around 500 (approx) but thanks to the concept of nuclear families and many other determinants, the numbers have now risen to 728. Of these, only 325 are free and 95 of them are on a pay-and-stay basis. If the current situation is assessed, there could be a 25 percent increase annually each year in the number of these homes in India.
“People, especially married kids, prefer living without their parents these days. Some of them work in a different city while others feel troubled by taking care of their elderly parents”, explains Pramod Singh, trustee, Varishtha Aashray Old Age Home, Barabanki. If we mine out the reasons for this increase, we might find many, with the major one being privacy. “Middle-aged adults (30-45years old) need their privacy. What’s disheartening is that they can’t even bear their parents living in the same house as it infringes their privacy”, adds Sinha.
The average cost of living in a paid old-age home is around rupees 50 thousand and can go up to rupees 15 lakhs per annum. “I couldn’t have afforded to live in an old age home hadn’t it been for charity by the place where I live today. My kids left me as they were unable to bear the expenses of my medicines”, explains a resident of Mother Teressa Old Age Home, Hazratganj, Lucknow (name undisclosed on request).
Medical expenses and chronic disease are common reasons why the elderly are sent to live in an old age home. However, there’s also a brighter side to this. “We get to live much better lives here than in our previous home. Everyone feels like a family and I can share anything with them. People here take good care of each other and never let you feel like you’re alone. I was shy initially but now I don’t want to leave this place”, adds the elderly.
Recently, an old age home for retired soldiers was inaugurated by Odisha’s governor Smt. Droupadi Murmu in Manjhatoli region of the Gumla district. The old age home has been set up by Soldiers Welfare Board with the sole aim of providing a safe shelter to retired soldiers as many of them end up living in dingy hamlets. This old age home can house up to 20 soldiers who are provided with food, medical care, newspapers, and various entertainment sources. Widows of martyred soldiers and ex-servicemen are also welcomed.