Taking care of the old

In certain cases there arises the need to have State-Parenting, that is old age homes for the forsaken
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Every life needs parenting. Some by nature like botanical world, some by progenitors as  biological world, in which the humans fall. Humans do parenting with three objectives.

First, as a natural intuition to rear those in the best manner possible within their available mental, muscle and money power so that they are capable and ready to face challenges of life successfully.

Second that they bring laurels and earn honour  & fame for their parents. Third, they will be sufficiently kind and reliable source of care-taking in old age. This last one is the crux of the family life, instead of a mere biological life.

To do away with these begotten necessities and responsibilities parents ponder extensively on the pros and cons of the parenting bequeathed to them through their parents. Aware of their duties parents take only what is most suitable for their children.

This type of parenting is called Child-Centric or Conscious Parenting. Some are more sensitive in respect of their off-spring. They invariably, hover over their head, like a helicopter, to be exclusively careful about their needs, experiences and problems especially regarding academics.

This is named as Over-Parenting or Helicopter Parenting. They want to see their  all children always fit to come out with flying colours from any test or trial. Parents groom and support them mentally, psychologically, academically, financially, emotionally etc.

In this process moms and supermoms invest all their time and resources to have a better product. Some moms even suffer Mommy Guilt when achievements fail their expectations.

The core at the third objective is to ensure an infallible return support called Reverse-Parenting. It is parenting your parents when they are old. Majority of the parents reach old age.

There are three categories of old age groups. First: youngest – old between 65 years and 74 years, second: middle – old 75 years to 84 years, and third: oldest - old of 85 years and over. Old age, some say, is a golden age, an age of wisdom, forbearance, foresight, taking right decisions and a privilege some not bestowed with.

Others comment it reversely. Whatever the contesting and the contradictory commentaries one thing is incontrovertible that it is a period of life we have to pass through. Normally it is an age where ability, capacity, capability and performance retard making oldies dependent upon others.

Resultantly they are conscious of the kind and amount of support they had provided to their children or siblings. Now their children become their caretakers. Fortunate are the children and the parents who have good parents, full of emotional and psychological support which lacks in what is called out-sourced parenting.

In out-sourced parenting parents arrange a paid service in the shape of a support system at home or children, being shuttled between daycare centre and the home.

Thanks to the development mantra, industrialization, modern concept of nuclear family that are severing and fettering most of the parents/the sibling in the hope of better standard of life.

The economic craze has torn various first blood relations by distancing them thousands of miles away. Consequently there are destitute, abandoned elderly parents wandering for help.

Nobody tends to them as they are health beaten, disease eaten, poverty stricken, finance stripped, kin desolated - decrepit from all angles. Pertinent to mention that in 3/2019 Government of Jammu & Kashmir in its first ever such initiative sanctioned creation of two Daycare cum Recreational Centres, one each in the twin capital cities of  Jammu and Kashmir, under the State’s Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizen Act 2014 for effective implementation.

These centres are to provide a platform to the senior citizens and retired persons to pass time together, share views, read newspapers, discuss various issues and aware people of various schemes introduced by government.

These centres are to have computer, furniture, books, television, kitchen equipment, resting room, reading room, internet, newspapers, magazines, air conditioners, electricity, genset and inverters as lighting arrangements, recreational services and other basic amenities.

They are to be manned by house-in-charge Superintendent, office assistant, helpers, visiting psychiatrists/clinical psychologists/occupational therapists/general physician and a night watchman.

This is a good initiative.  However, to these centres can come only those who either come of their own or are brought by their caretakers to spend time joyfully.

They may be comparatively often well off unlike abandoned, that are unable to purchase or render any services to sustain them. People at Daycare centre may be facing boredom, lack of taste and company but the deserted ones suffer existential threat. Here arises the need to have State-Parenting that is old age homes for the forsaken.

Old age homes is not a new concept but existed since 1911 when the first old age home was established in Kerala by Raja of Cochin, and was called the Raja Varma Old Age Home.

There are two types of old age homes. One is the ‘free type’ which takes care of destitute people who are rejected or have none to look after them. They are provided food, clothing, shelter and medication. The second is a paid type for services availed.

It is an exhilarating endeavor that during 3/2019 Department of Social Welfare Jammu & Kashmir gave nod to the creation of an old age home in Srinagar for the destitute and abandoned elderly citizens of Kashmir.

In fact old age homes should come up one each in every district. Our legal system is so flexible that it guarantees providing of shelter, protection, medical care and provisions to the jail inmates.

On this analogy the abandoned elderly citizens are more entitled and justified to such facilities at state level.

Although old age home cannot replace real home where one can live happily with one’s family, and spend a quality life yet it is something better than nothing.

During 1/2023 the Government of Jammu & Kashmir came up with J & K Advocate Welfare Fund describing its aim as an outreach to the distressed lawyers’ community of J & K.

This was said to be a social security step taken in furtherance of the welfare of advocates who remained deprived of any security of life and profession. The old age abandoned people are in more vulnerable position. Welfare state has a responsibility.

The author is a former Sr. Audit Officer and Consultant in the A.G’s Office Srinagar.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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