Homely homes for older people
Owing to rapid advancement in medical science,the most significant demographic trend has been the marked increase in human lifespans and the citizens enjoying longer spells of good health though for some longevity in the lifespan also means having to survive with longer spells in poor health. Amid such favourable situation, where one can look forward to having all the worldly pleasures for a longer period compared with the past when humans were vulnerable to succumb to simplest of health problems, Lok Sabha MP Dr Th Meinya stressing the need for establishing old age home in adequate numbers across the state, assumes significance. It is a fact that with the change in the lifestyles and tight work schedules of the new generations, many youngsters often could not spare time to think or care for even their parents, who are well past their prime. With the children mostly pre-occupied with their work or striving to promote their professional careers, the end result is that needs of the parents could not be accorded utmost priority. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the number of old age homes is vastly inadequate in Manipur, even though the ageing phenomenon here is no different from other parts of the world. With the exception of countable old age homes being run by NGOs, the state appears to lack facilities where the elderly citizens could age with dignity. When joint family used to be the norm in the state, parents need not worry much about their future though the story is quite different at present when even siblings no longer live under the same roof.
At the juncture, caring for older people experiencing end-of-life decline seems to have come much lower down the pecking order of priorities than investing in expanding human lifespans. As it would be most inhumane to view the ageing people as unproductive part of the society or to expect that the few existing schemes under which the senior citizens are entitled to a measly sum every month could cater to all their needs, time has come for the government to increase the budget for funding old age homes to cope with the increasing population of old people and the need for ensuring the basic needs. As Dr Meinya assured maximum support from his side in establishing old age homes where facilities, including medical services could be made available to elderly people, it is equally important that the state’s representative in the parliament take the leading role in translating the promise into action. Regardless of the fact that the older people struggle with even simple tasks such as washing and eating, not many realise the degree of their discomfort or inconvenience until they end up in hospital after suffering preventable falls or from malnutrition. As more funds to set up old age homes will be helpful in ensuring that the senior citizens do not feel wretched or consider themselves as burden to their children, the government needs to shoulder the responsibility of chalking up effective policies, under which not only old age homes are constructed but also levies certain amount from those children who could not pay the much-needed attention towards their ageing parents as well as strikes a deal with the children to periodically visit their parents.