Old age is viewed as an unavoidable, undesirable and problem ridden phase of life. It brings many obstacles for the ones going through, many problems, physiologically, psychologically, socially, emotionally and financially. The baggy eyes, the sagging, wrinkled, blue-veined skin, the toothless smile, the silver hair, the lisp words, the trembling hands, the bent back, the improper motor skills and unstable steps, all are screaming of a lifetime of experience and struggle.
They develop symptoms like poor memory, weakness, fatigue, dizziness, headache, depression, memory defect, periods of confusion, lowered efficiency in work, intolerance of change, disorientation, restlessness, insomnia, failure of judgement, a gradual formation of delusion and hallucinations, extreme-mental depression and agitation, severe mental clouding in which the individual becomes restless, combative, mental stability diminishes, financial power becomes bleak and eyesight suffers a setback. It is a period of disappointment, dejection, disease, repentance and remorse.
I often wonder why is it that we are so sensitive to the needs of our children while the same time we show great indifference towards our parents. I have witnessed such brutal cruelty parents suffer at the hands of their children, children who are great parents, why ? Is it because our children are our future, we have to invest time and money in them to reap benefits in our old age ? Are we already so scared of our future that we have started to prepare for it from now itself, trying to make our kids able and available, to be able to support us and be there for us ? Then why is it that we turned out to be bad investments of our parents, weren’t we supposed to be their future ? Aren’t they our future too ? Aren’t they the reflection of us in our old age ? Or is it that we are so ignorant to the fact that our old age isn’t very far away, that we are resistant to getting senile one day, some day ? Has youth blinded us to the harsh fact that we might be enduring the same fate that we gave our parents, that our children are watching us subject our parents to various kinds of tortures, mental, physical and emotional.
Examples of cruelty towards parents is seen everywhere, especially in India. We are more emotional people, we can’t kick our children outta of our homes at the age of 18, we take the responsibility of educating them, and providing them with the best education, we also consider it our duty to settle them, provide them with some inheritance, help them find a life partner, even look after their kids for them, and that is the sole reason we are used more like a piece of junk by kids in old age. They take parents for granted, their unconditional love becomes their weakness and their giving nature becomes their shortcomings as they endure every pain inflicted by ungrateful sons and daughters with a smile on their lips.
I heard a heartbreaking story recently, about a son who was settled in USA, he never visited his mother except for the one time his father passed away. He came to India, convinced his mother that she can’t live here alone and needs to come to US and live with him, the poor lady agreed happily and sold her house handing over all the money to her son. He took her with him to the airport, and told her to wait as he clears check-in, the unsuspecting mother sat in the waiting lounge for next 18 hours, but the son never came, he had boarded the flight alone leaving her behind. When people made the old lady realize of the game her son played on her she was heart-broken, she had no place to return to, ultimately she landed up taking the job of a maid in the house that was hers, and sadly she did it with the hope that someday her son would come back for her, and she must stay put so that he can find her easily. This story brought tears of anguish to my eyes, as I felt her pain in my heart, it retched me and I cursed her son.
I can never forget a poet recite an incident, where an old man had two sons, both fought for his property, each got his share, but none fought for the father, he was thrusted upon them them each for 15 days a month forcefully by some concerned relatives, he used to eat with his elder son for fifteen months days a month, and with his younger son the next fifteen days, and all the months with 31 days, he went hungry for one day, telling everyone that he keeps a day long fast.
This was just one instance, this kind of merciless and inhuman behaviour is witnessed many a times. The parents who gave up their master bedroom for you are often given the smallest room in the house and that too in the most deserted corner, the mother who sat with you all night as you burned in fever, shedding tears to see you unwell is left to die alone in a charity hospital. The father who spent his last penny to help you buy your house is kicked out of the same house, forced to live in old age homes.
HelpAge (NGO India) – A leading Non Profit Organization in India caring for disadvantaged elderly senior citizens for more than three decades carried out a survey in 2015. The survey across 20 cities revealed that 73% of responders accepted that abuse of the elderly exists in society. One in three persons surveyed said they would do nothing about it. Following are some facts from it :
- Across the country, 37% of the youths surveyed preferred to stay passive in the face of elderly abuse.
- 92% youths in Delhi are unlikely to take action against elderly abuse.
- In Hyderabad, 45% of the youth population don’t care about elderly abuse.
- 29% youth in the country feel that ‘physical abuse and beating up’ is a common type of abuse.
- Among those surveyed, 61.2% feel ‘elders without spouse’ are more vulnerable to abuse.
- Only 4% said they would report the case to the police.
- Property and inheritance disputes’ emerges as the main reason for abuse at 53.2%.
- Respondents said most abusers were of ‘sound mind as well as sound health’. Clearly, elder abuse was intentional and voluntary.
- 7% said that they had noticed elder abuse among their relatives or family.
A recent survey conducted across 12 cities and eight states in India, daughters-in-law turned out to be the most common offenders when it comes to abusing the elderly. According to the report, 59% of the abused elderly reported abuse by sons while only 7% reported facing abuse by their daughters. While this appears like a gendered phenomenon, as many as 61% of those surveyed reported abuse by daughters-in-law.
Silver Age ! A period of diminished achievement following a golden age, a characterized by an increase in impiety and human weakness. Youth is the Golden Age, shining, bright, coveted, sought, precious while old age is silver, luminescent, cool, calm, pale, valued yet ignored.
Every man desires to live long, but no man desires to be old. We’ve put more effort into helping folks reach old age than into helping them enjoy it !
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