The life span of human beings is marked by successive change of events beginning from gestation and ending in death through successive periods of infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood and senescence. The process of growth starts with the uterine life and ends around twenty years post natal life when all linear increments of the body stop and the internal organs fully develop. Almost a decade later, the body starts losing all vital capacities gradually and it is believed to be the onset of ageing. Growing old is a characteristic feature of all living creatures but man stands out distinctly from others in thinking about it.
Old age is inevitable. Every person on the earth has a dream of living a long and healthy life. To a reasonable limit, it can't be termed a dream as it has been made possible by the advancement of medical sciences. But old age is the most critical stage a person goes through. It is the stage where man faces problems socially, physically, mentally and even economically.
In India, old age was never a problem. Elder abuse was considered a western problem and old age home was an alien concept. Earlier the elderly persons of a family were respected a lot and they continued to live with respect till their death. But now the times have changed. The elderly are treated as burden.
Old age is quite similar to childhood in many respects. The way a child or a baby is unable to do any work on his/her own and is dependent on their parents every now and then, an old person is also dependent on another person for getting their work accomplished as they are no longer physically fit.
But the irony lies here. Young children often forget that these old people were the ones who took care of their childhood when they were small. They did so willingly, without any complaint. They never considered their children as a burden. They outreached to support and bring up children, even overburdened themselves.
But the same children when they grow up find it difficult to take care of their parents when they become old. In their childhood, their parents had spent sleepless nights catering to their needs but now grown up children shunt out parents to have undisturbed sleep and so called liberty arising out of so called economic independence.
The latest report from Health Age India states that one in three elderly people are abused in the country. In addition, the report also states that 50 percent of the abuse comes within the family and in 56 percent of the cases, the abuse was from the son. In one of the leading metros, only 52.7 percent of children assist their elderly parents during sickness. The number of old age homes have exponentially increased across the country and more importantly, there are large number of elderly people in the country who can neither go to an old age home nor live in peace within their homes. Do they deserve such treatment?
In a rapidly materialistic society, parents seem to have become liabilities and not assets. The modern urban population is so consumed with accumulation of their own personal needs; there is neither time nor space for them to share with their parents. In most cases, the intent seems to be there on the children but the priorities are skewed, giving preference to social stigmas and compulsions. Since society has set money as a benchmark for everything, that is the only thing that seems to be the barometer for a lot of young adults. These are cases that have lower priorities for parents in their day to day activities. However, the cases of abuse are appalling.
The statistics show that one in 3 is abused among the aged population. How despicable is that to go through reading that? Gratitude of parents seems to have been thrown into the dustbin. Even their presence is considered a major liability to the children in today's world. There are large number of cases in which parents were abused for family wealth and ancestral property. Rare and blessed are those who experience obeisance in true sense as was taught by our ancestors who maintained that parents have to be worshipped before worshipping the God "Mata Pita Guru Devta".
It is expected that the number of elderly people in the country is likely to increase to 320 million by 2050.The population of elderly is expected to increase by 360 percent from 2000 to 2050. Even a glimpse of this statistics leaves a right thinking person not only perplexed but alarmed?