Going by today’s standards, old age homes are not scandalous any more! What was once considered as an unimaginable thought or action is now a most convenient reality. More and more people are thinking of and many are opting to put their aged parents in old age homes. It just seems the right thing to do, leaving couples free to pursue their careers, party around or go for vacations without the nagging thought of an aged parent at home.
People favoring old age homes justify their decisions with several points. They say that the presence of old parents at home is too much trouble. There is no room for privacy. They have to constantly tend to them when they are sick. Bringing friends home becomes embarrassing. Going on a holiday becomes an impossible reality. Oof! So many problems just to have elderly parents around!
But all justifications fall flat when we realize that the old parents we are talking about as ‘problems’ are the very people who took care of us whenever we fell sick. These people sacrificed outings, friends and vacations only to make us feel happy, wanted and part of the family. They did not ponder much about lack of privacy whenever we barged into their romantic rendezvous. They did it all for Us! Is this how we pay back? By dumping them in old age homes?
Okay, times have changed. Now, both parents might have to work to run the home. Maybe, we don’t want to miss out on our promotions. After all, the money from that promotion will also be used to give parents a ‘better old age home!!’ And now-a-days, old age homes are all spruced up like hotels with all facilities including medicine and entertainment readily available. Fine, but pray tell me, if we have the time to party, if we have the time to watch television can we not find a little time for our parents at home? Is it too much to ask for? Old age homes may provide all material requirements but surely, we are wise enough( or are we?!) to understand that an old age home cannot fill in the vacuum of love and affection that only a family can provide. Even if we call them every other day, can the phone call fulfill the anticipations and expectation that a parent has to meet his/her son or/and daughter?
There are some senior citizens who have resigned to their lonely fate with their children busy working or settled elsewhere. Some even save up for such homes so they don’t have to be dependent on their children. An indifferent institution seems a better option than bitter nostalgia and loneliness at home. But, can an old age home replace the warmth of a real home filled with the presence of one’s kith and kin? Can the professionalism of a senior citizen centre take the place of a child?
On the other side, there is no denying the fact that some cynical elderly parents have spoiled the lives of their adult children. Many marriages have been destroyed due to the constant interference of these people. Still, dumping them in an old age home is not and cannot be a permanent solution. Is slogging away at work or even enjoying life to the hilt really worth it at the cost of losing out on one’s parents? We are what we are today because of them. Of course, not all possess a generous heart, great patience or even remember their duties when it comes to taking care of old parents.
But we need to remember that life runs full circle. What we give comes back to us. And, history could repeat itself!