The garden city now has the dubious distinction of being the worst when it comes to caring for the elderly. Helpage India conducted a survey in major cities and found that 44% of the senior citizens feel neglected or abused. They are also soft targets for crime in the city.
Then there are places like the Aashraya Trust-run old age home. That good soul who takes care of these elderly women is K T Rani. She runs the home in a rented three storied building .
Rani invested 7 lakhs of inherited money straight into this. Her brothers got lands and coffee estates. She didn’t complain. She had a mission and she went ahead and with it. She has seen many come and a few leave with no one to claim their body. They were treated with dignity until their last breath and that matters.
One elderly lady sits by the window. Her wrinkled, shaking hands stitching together lost stories and little gaps in her memories. She is soaking up the sun. It was a while since she saw daylight. They had pushed her into a dark corner saying she didn’t deserve to see light. They had slid a plate with food in it, until it landed near her feet. She found herself in prison for her son’s misdeeds.
"What did I do to deserve this?” asked Lalithamma (name changed). She is not the only one in the old age home with such a heart-breaking story. There are several more like her lying on their beds in Aashraya; discarded by their kith and kin until some good samaritan found them and brought them here. The beds lie close to each other offering comfort and solace. After all misery loves company and they know they are not alone in their struggle, as they reach the end of their lives.
A cancer patient lies in her bed. Her hands and legs are like sticks and she cannot sit up. She sleeps most of the day. Gowramma says she is happier here than at the hands of her daughter-in-law and son who treated her like a maid servant. Then there are a couple of voluntary inmates who walked in here saying they just didn’t want to be a burden on others and wanted to live with dignity as the evening of their lives approached. They are fed, clothed and taken good care by the workers.
A TV sitting atop a shelf gets their attention. Vacuous stares steer towards the monitor as they watch in silence whatever it is they are watching. They lived their life. They watched their offspring’s grow and then they realized they were no longer needed. A small kitten runs around offering her furry company.
Contact person: Rani K T, Founder, Aashraya Seva Trust
# 135, 1st Floor, 1st K-Block, Dr. Rajkumar Road, Rajaji Nagar, Bangalore-560010
Email: care at aashrayasevatrust.com
A loving soul, whose love is unconditional, a small streak of light amidst the misery and pain painted in their eyes. Their precious belongings are tucked under the bed; a rusted iron suitcase, some old books, clothes and sandals. That is all they have as possessions. When their last breath is claimed, the bed is cleaned up and awaits other discarded humans. The elderly are becoming victims of changing family dynamics, modern day stresses of living and shoe-string budgets that families face today. There is an alarming increase in abuse of the elderly in the city and elsewhere. Is this the current trend for the elderly in the city? Are more old age homes the answer to the problem? These questions will soon have to be answered to find solutions to the problem. ⊕