CARE OF OLD AGED & CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS
We all know that the medical science has increased the life span of the people but it has caused alarming concern for the age-related problems i.e. the longevity in age has not provided solution to the resultant problems that long age entails! Although some concern has been echoed in some societies yet it is not in commensurate with the prevalent problem that prolongation in age brings with it.
It is a undisputed fact that all the individuals require three things for their survival and progress for a happy living. Firstly, it is residence for living, food for subsistence or upkeep of the body, medicare for keeping the body medically fit for performing the various functions, clothing and education to evolve and transfer knowledge (gyan) to the society. Secondly, enhancement of education for all round development of body, mind and spirit. Thirdly, the infinite happiness is ensured when the first two factors are fully met with our sincere efforts.
It is also a fact that in the childhood and adolescent periods the child is fully dependent on the parents. On adulthood and after getting education, individual becomes self dependent. MIddle-age too is a period when we sweat for the family welfare. Thereafter, there is onset of oldage – a period when the same individual who handled everything with dexterity becomes dependent on others for all the needs. Though a huge paradox yet a reality which we all have to face and sometimes live with.
The basic necessity is that the aged and infirm (differently abled and gifted children) should feel wanted, supported, assisted, feel secure and happy. Besides the opinion of the aged should be respected, as it used to be while they are active and earning for the entire family. The role played by the Oldage Homes, NGOs, orphanages etc is really laudable but they’ve their own problems while carrying out the affairs of these homes. This is partly due to financial constraints and partly due to mismanagement of these homes.
We all know that before the advent of industrial revolution and globalization people used to live in the joint families. The old people were in demand and their opinion respected. They enjoyed playing with their grandchildren besides handling light jobs, if and when required. Presently joint family system has been replaced with nuclear one; oftenly away from their ancestral homes; where both the spouses perforce have to work because of family demands. This puts a break in the communication between young and the old people. Not to speak of this, as both the spouses are constrained to work therefore they remain absent from their new residential accommodation thus leaving their children to the care of somebody else or worse still offspring are left to fend for themselves! Leaving behind children at home without proper care means being influenced by extraneous elements and occasionally at cross purposes to the value system which the old family system might have given. Violence in our schools and colleges is the direct result of not giving value time to our children.
The parents who nurture their children with unconditioned love and affection besides imparting value system, these fortunate children too spread and express the same toward others in the society. When these parents grow old they too get the same sort of love and affection from their children because they’ve grown up with excellent norms of behavior/value system. Here mother has a special role to play.
In Indian context, when parents earn, they spend all their earnings on their offspring; for their upbringing, for their educational pursuits, for enhancing their professional qualifications etc besides spending their pensionary benefits for procurement of a dwelling unit. Finally, these hapless people do not have anything left for meeting their basic oldage requirements (like food, clothes, medicines etc) thus have to fend for themselves besides losing their status, financial stability and social identity.
All round down-slide in the stature of old people, impinges on their dignity, independence, and freedom too which adversely affects their health and the last resort for them, perforce, is to await their impending death. Problem is compounded when their children leave them for better opportunities abroad or in the metropolitan cities; far away from their homes! I am also appalled by the spate of killing of old people in Delhi and other metropolitan cities. This shows how vulnerable they are because of their being nobody to protect them. I am telling this because came across some examples. In one of the cases, parents taught their two sons; spending everything they had on their upbringing, education etc. due to which one is a surgeon presently in America and the other one is an Engineer who has migrated to Australia – woefully leaving their aged and infirm (mother is bedridden) parents to fend for themselves. What a pity? Heartless and I should say shameful act.
SOME SUGGESTED SOLUTIONS
- For differently abled and gifted children. More often than not it has been observed that there is reluctance in adoption of children with special needs. They require individual attention for their upbringing. Every civil society should think of adopting not only the children with sound health but also those who need more care and protection because of their special needs. For these children, orphanage should be the last resort/choice. Not that care and protection is suspect there but because the children could get physical and emotional support from homes which is lacking in orphanages because of more number of such children. Home atmosphere creates secure and healthy feeling for these children.
- Social Security/Pension to the aged & Rehabilitation / disability support. Government run or voluntary organizations can chip in and play important role in making the people especially the young ones aware of the necessity of taking care of old people. They should visit oldage homes/orphanages for spreading awareness amongst them or should be educated sthrough media, net etc.
- Post Retirement Financial Management. After retirement, flow of money will not be as during service period. Therefore, it is important that retirement benefits such as gratuity, commutative reimbursement, leave encashment, provident fund available etc should be deposited judiciously so that monthly flow of money continues post-retirement. Financial security means freedom to spend and financial stringency means no freedom to spend while one needs money. It has been seen that retirees spend these retirement benefits on purchase of homes, meeting the expenditure on children thus drying the flow of finance when it is seemingly required in the oldage. Some selfish children, knowing fully well their old parents do not have much left and therefore they do not care for them – exception may be there in this.
- Oldage Home – Daily need support (physical & emotional). More HOMES FOR AGED should be opened so that their physical and emotional needs could be met there to the extent possible.
- Community Services / Employment. It should never be forgotten that old age is ware-house of knowledge and experience along with wisdom. The old people should be employed in community services or informal institution so that they could contribute their experience besides remaining busy and not feeling left out. Here non-governmental organizations should come forward for assistance.
- Information on Facilities/Concessions granted by the Government for Senior Citizens. It should be the endeavor of power that be to provide information on the facilities or concessions which are available for the senior citizens – in the form of railway concessions, air concessions, old age pension, homes for oldage, etc.
- Oldage and Spirituality. In oldage, as the health goes downswing and also time hangs large on old people thus boredom knocks at the door. We’ve to make concerted efforts to utilize the time available with us meaningfully. How best we can do so depends on our sincere efforts despite handicaps. The best thing is to make conscious effort to connect with our Lord. Time just passes when we’re in sync with His bountiful presence. Connectivity with our Creator means enternal peace, calmness and a life bereft of attachment. Then even our discrepancies of any sort do not haunt us.
Finally the main purpose is to not to identify ourselves with the body but with the soul of which it is a vehicle and thus spend our oldage with abandon. In God-consciousness, we are blissful. There is thus a positivity even in utter unhappy situation. When a thinking dawns that soul never dies then we become detached from pain or we do not have fear of oldage. This is possible only when we’re spiritually awakened.
CARE FOR OLDAGED PEOPLE
Reaching oldage is just a natural phenomenon
After experiencing life’s ups and downs
That the life gives to everyone
The entire life span that a person lives
Childhood problems are solved by love ones
Support comes with a single cry
Teenage years are spent with no care
In middle age we perspire
For the well-being of the family
Give unconditioned love and affection to all
Without even an iota of bias
Till oldage knocks our door suddenly
A period when every organ of our body
Under performs naturally
When our hands get numb easily
The same hands which had handled much during our life time!
Now everything slips from these
And legs can hardly carry our own weight
Get immensely tired on slightest movement
Have a tottering gait
Reflexes have gotten degraded
Cheeks have shriveled
Thinking cap has just collapsed
Thus we’re totally dependent on others
For meeting our daily needs
Including, sometimes for meeting nature’s call
To such a pitiable state we’ve fell
Now we’re spoon fed like a little child!
If somebody is there to take care
We’re grateful for the one who provides us succour.
Fortunate are the ones who are helped by others at oldage
Such compassionate persons are dearest to our Lord
They earn His graces aplenty
Thus living always in His connectivity.