First a note: I've been trying to post this since Sunday but all in vain. ERROR appeared at the left top of my blog, I was unable to post but the blog was working. I asked few blogger users and they shared my woes. But, surprisingly, it was working outside Nepal. Dileep of Ninetynine says it was blocked by the ISP World Link due to spam from blogspot. I'm not an IT Geek; am merely a person who loves to write and that's why I took to blog. My writer persona always precedes the blogger. So, here's the blog I wanted to share with you:
When I entered the Pashupati Briddhshram recently for a semi-cover story for Nepal Magazine, I was appalled to see the inhuman condition the neglected elderly people were living in.
Abandoned and ostracized from their home and family, these septuagenarians and octogenarians live a meager existence. Death is at their doorstep and they are simply waiting for it. As I hopped from one Day Care Center to another (there are at least a dozen day care centers and old age home in Kathmandu Valley), I realized the elderly are being grossly marginalized. This too in a society that venerates its senior citizens.
The healthier living conditions, better health care, eradication of infectious disease etc has brought with it the growing population of old people. Consider this. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, elderly consists of 6.5 per cent of total population (approx. 1.7 million). Projected figure for 2011: 1.8 million; 2016 2 million. This is a numerical caveat for demographers and policy makers alike.
What caused this? Increasing urbanization, intergenerational conflict, social change, longevity has brought with it the problems of old age-related diseases. Demographers point out that longer lives and falling birth rate are demanding a rethink of a fundamental ways government and society have so far tended to its old. The joint family structure of our society is gradually crumbling and job pressure, individualistic tendency and consumerism have imparted in the young generation a sense of alienation to their aging parents.
Internal migration and outmigration are other factors that contribute to this crisis. In rural areas, the youths are absent, leaving the elderly, women and children to cope with the crisis. In the end of 2006, the parliament passed a bill on elderly (Senior Citizen Act 2006) which enables aging to fight for their rights. Based on the Act, government has come up with various schemes such as helping private sectors to build Day Care Centers and Old Age Homes, discount for elderly in medical facilities and transport etc.
An official at a private Old Age Home told me: "Even donors don't bother about elderly. Who cares for the withering ones?" Those who advocate for the aging echo his sentiments. Pashupati Briddhashram, the oldest old age home is funded and managed by the Ministry for Women, Children and Social Welfare. Two hundred and thirty elderly live in inhuman condition. Most of them are frail and sick, deprived of care and love; others are dying. It is marred by acute shortage of everything from basic water supply to care givers. It feels as if you are inside a hellhole.
What is required is a meticulous planning for the future and rebuilding the family values. You can't simply impose laws in one's household. So, moral education, as one sociologist said, is need of the hour. Our elder citizens are in the dire need of care and dignity.