Old parents dumped like waste: Abuse of senior citizens on the rise in Kerala
The other day, a 73 year old woman was found wandering on the premises of Guruvayur Sri Krishna temple. When questioned, the woman said she came to the temple accompanied by her son’s family, but there was no trace of them since then.
Police investigation later revealed that she was deliberately kicked out of her home by her son and family and dumped on the temple premises in order to get rid of her.
This is not an isolated incident. The Guruvayoor Devaswom authorities have come across several cases of senior citizens getting dumped on the temple premises. Many prefer to dump their old parents on the temple premises because the temple offers free meals at noon and evening and so they don’t meet with sudden death due to starvation.
At least 15 new destitutes end up in Guruvayoor every month abandoned by their children.The majority of them are women who are terminally ill and need immediate medical care. Devaswom accommodates them in its destitute home for the poor. But it has become an uphill task for the Devaswom to cope with the rising number of destitutes since it has limited funds for the purpose. So, many of them are sent to state-run old-age homes. Most of the destitutes don’t want to go back home because life is a hell for them, there.
Surprisingly, it is not just the poor who are dumping the old like waste, but even those hailing from educated middle-class families do so. In many cases, ill-treatment starts after the parents partition the properties among their children.
The new trend of dumping people in public places is the result of nuclear families replacing the joint family system. Senior citizens used to get proper care in the joint family system, but now abuse of the elderly is increasingly becoming common.
A survey by HelpAge India reveals that more than one-fifth of the elderly people experience abuse one way or the other at the hands of their daughters-in-law or sons. The survey shows that 70% of the abused haven’t reported the matter for fear of loss of family prestige or retaliation from children. Many of them also didn’t know where to report and whom to report to. They are also reluctant to legally proceed against their children under the newly enacted Parents and Senior Citizens Act in view of the cumbersome procedures involved.
Apart from ill-treatment at home, migration of children to other parts of the country or abroad, has contributed to the agony of old parents. In the absence of proper home care services and well-run old-age homes as in the West, life has become unbearable for many elderly parents.
To cater to the needs of such parents, retirement homes have mushroomed in the state of late. But many of them are more money-minded and less service-oriented and are hardly a `home away from home’ for the elderly as they are advertised to be.
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