A good book is an endless source of influence on human beings

— Ria Chakraborty

We are generally great at identifying where a problem stems from, but have fared pretty badly in finding workable solutions, much less effectively applying these solutions to solve the problem. Increasingly, however, it appears as though a vocal, privileged section of the elite and self-proclaimed, self-obsessed intelligentsia has lost the ability to even identify a problem with any modicum of sense.

Unlike nowadays, most seniors over age 65, a generation before, wanted to stay at home for as long as possible. Living at home and staying in a familiar community offers, even now, benefits to the elders emotional well-being. The fact, however, is that a staggering number of seniors continue to live with their children at home — but unfortunately, in most cases, alone. And that is the pity. Simply because, both the husband and the wife are working.

Registering with the local police station is a must in Metros like Mumbai; the process is still in the early stages. We must address the tricky problem, why seniors prefer living alone? Certainly, there are seniors who live alone and are just fine. We must recognize that Retirement Homes aren’t for everyone. But it’s without doubt that there are vast numbers of seniors living alone in unsafe or unhealthy situations who would benefit immensely from life at Retirement Homes. When living alone is unsafe, there is no alternative to Retirement Homes.

Till recently ‘Disadvantages of Old Age Homes’, or the ‘Homes for the Aged’, were:
People generally staying here are very sad. It is but natural for them to be so, as they leave their familiar homes for a stranger place that lacks in all memories.
It is natural for them to fear nursing homes as it is known to be prior step to death. Seeing that they will not be able to get back to their homes, it can be deemed true.
Here too is loneliness! Few residents here get visits from families after a long time and these are very few in nature.
Independence becomes a thing of past when one enters these homes. Many see it as the end of their lives. With independence all gone, they even bid goodbye to their self-esteem. All they live their lives in is scheduled activity.

Missing element here is freedom.
What is given to them for meals is final. They do not have any say in it.
Other freedoms that they lose are:
- Cooking for family and friends.
- Only with nurses help one can shower that too on their schedule
- They do not even have independence to go for worship at place of their option.
They are not even allowed to have personal doctors. All they get is one’s at home.

Anger at putting them in these homes directed at their children is a natural thing for these residents. Family is bound to get various heartaches from these.

Retirement Homes range from homelike to the posh luxury of a high-end hotel. Most seniors who have moved to Retirement Homes have to feel that they have better life at the newfound home to life alone in their home.

Here are some common reasons :
1. No Stress and Home Maintenance
Keeping up a home is hard, especially for those with physical ailments. Climbing a ladder et al have become things of the past.

2. Vanquishing Boredom
They need never be bored at a Retirement Home.

3. Improved Family Relationships
Older folks at home frequently become dependent on grownup children, or relatives, for help of all kinds. Unnatural role reversals can strain relationships. Younger family members are liberated from the role of full-time caregivers, and are able to assure that time with their older loved one is meaningful and of high-quality.

4. Better Food
At retirement homes, they don’t have to worry about grocery shopping, meal preparation or even coffee making. Instead, they get to enjoy a fine dining experience.

5. Feeling Like Oneself Again
Living alone, they may not be able to participate in activities. But retirement homes offer a wealth of opportunities to keep them engaged.

6. Making New Friends
While at home they live alone and often become isolated, which is unhealthy at any age. At retirement homes they can make friends, share a meal and enjoy festive occasions with one another. On the other hand, those of us who are more introverted appreciate that their privacy is respected, still glad to have folks around.

7. Finally Feeling Safe
Residents at Retirement Homes can rest safe knowing that they are secured from thieves, con-men et al. Also, they enjoy the peace of mind that comes from the emergency response systems available in Retirement Homes. This alleviates fears of falling and becoming trapped for hours, a scenario that’s all too common for senior’s residing alone.

Certainly, there are seniors who live alone and are just fine. I agree that Retirement Homes aren’t for everyone. But it’s without doubt that there are vast numbers of seniors living alone in unsafe or unhealthy situations while they could benefit immensely from life at a Retirement Home.

About the Author
An electronic Engineer, LF IETE, LF IB(E)S IB(E)S Retiree in Sr Engg Mgmt Cadres from AIR & DD, MIB, GoI Currently a social activist and LACC Member BMC

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