Missed writing yesterday. Season changes and colds get along well but not when I am thrown in for good measure. So now I have a box of tissues beside me and a red nose that would make Rudolf hide in shame. Any openings Mr.Santa??

Jokes apart. Yesterday I heard of an unusual arrangement in a family nearby. An elderly gentleman has two daughters. The two women live approximately 3 blocks apart. The gentleman lives with the older but has his meals with the younger. Every day he would walk down to the younger’s house for lunch. Thankfully for dinner he did not have to leave the house as it was delivered in a tiffin-box. Odd by normal standards but I am there must have been a reason.

Although nuclear families have invaded our society, extended family ties have not died out absolutely. Even if grown up children leave the nest an attachment remains. Yet sometimes intentionally or unintentionally children are not in a position to take care of the seniors. On the other hand even some elderly parents decide to stay away to allow some private space for themselves and their children as well. I have mixed feelings regarding this type of arrangements and old-age homes. Old age homes were considered taboo in Indian society because they were seen as reclusive places where neglected people were “left to die”. Most of them lacked adequate basic and medical facilities. Off late the picture is changing with many more elderly people showing an inclination to settle down in old age homes. Instead of sanetoriums or hospitals they are being developed as residential communities with recreation centres, medical facilties, attending staff etc.

People who are approaching old-age at this point of time have spent a comparitively independent life. They have valued their individual space and like the same for their children and themselves. But they do not make up the entire group of senior citizens in the society. There are many others who have been genuinely neglected and are in desperate need of care. Also not everyone can afford respectable alternate accomodations. And the emotional attachments to one’s own flesh and blood remain forever. Parents expect their children to look after them in their old age and rightfully so. Personally I feel that there should not be any general rule. Every individual situation should handled considering its pros and cons. For eg. an elderly aunt is a widow who does not have any children. She has worked all her life and thankfully is financially stable. With a sheer lack of foresight she built a huge house where no one but herself lives. None of her close relatives are in a position to go and live with her. Practically she would have been more secure if she had lived in an old-age home. She would not have had to bother about the nitty-gritties of maintaining a house which unfortunately she is not very deft at and yet could have had her freedom. But that alas! is an external viewpoint.

Families work out things in peculier ways. As long as elderly members are not neglected and rejected probably it is fair. But above all their individual existence should always be respected.

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