Give attention and protection to senior citizens: It is the need of the hour!

Aging is an inevitable process which happens to everyone in their life circle. Economic crisis, health problems, psychological and social problems are the issues which are faced by most of the elderly citizens in our country. Several fundamental laws have been implemented in the constitution to facilitate senior citizens in living a normal life. For welfare of senior
citizens, there are several acts and benefits that have been introduced in India like “Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Bill, 2007’ which aims to prevent the destitution of senior citizen in our country, ‘The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act 1956’, ‘Code of Criminal Procedure Section 125 CRPC’, ‘TAX and Transportation Benefits’, etc. All of these major steps have been taken to help the senior citizen to maintain a good and healthy lifestyle in this country even if they are economically and physically weak.

Here, one very important question emanates “Are senior citizen of this country really getting that lifestyle, what is required in their elderly age?” Then the honest answer would be absolutely not!! In growing age, an elder does not only require proper food and shelter but they also need emotional and social support, which is lacking day by day in our country. Elders suffer in solitude and there is a major reduction of emotional bonding in those families who have a nuclear family system and mostly where women prefer to work outside. While in rural areas, most families prefer a joint family. So, the elders get more emotional and physical support of the family which is most required in their growing age. According to a research, the elders in rural areas feel more happiness and safety as compared to the elders in urban areas.

On 16 December 1991, 18 policies were adopted by the UN General Assembly for the welfare of the senior citizen all around the world. In those 18 policies, there is one major policy i.e. “Older People should have access to health care to help them maintain the optimum level of physical, mental and emotional well-being”. Somehow emotional well-being is lacking in our society. Now children are more affectionate towards their dreams rather that well-being of their parents. One of such mournful incident telecasted a few days ago which jolted down the people of this country and made them think once again, “What will happen to them when they grow old?”

Few days ago, news came in media that the skeleton of a 63 years old lady named Asha Sahni was recovered from her 10th floor apartment of Bell scot Tower in Lokhandwala, only when her son returned from USA. Her husband had passed few years ago and after her husband's death, the driver and the maid left the job. On the 10th floor both the flats belonged to the Mr. Sahni who died in 2013. After her husband’s death, Mrs. Sahni was left all alone to live in solitude.
She always requested her son to either take her with him or send her to an Old Age Home because she could not live alone. But the discussion always ended with quarrels because her son hardly had time to think about the poor condition of his mother. The last time Rituraj talked to her mother was over telephone in April 2016. After one year on 6 August 2017, he came back from USA. When no one opened the door and he did not receive any reply from inside, he called the police. When the door was opened by the police, his mother’s body was found totally decomposed and only the skeleton remained on the chair. Although, police said that there was no any evidence of any foul play, so the death might be natural and for formalities body has been sent for post-mortem. But this story had a huge impact on the society and will last for a long time!!!!

For our “Civilized Society”, Is it not shameful that a mother died in her apartment and her body and soul was waiting for a proper funeral for such long. Her son talked to her over a year ago and she did not pick the phone for more than a year. Still he did not even bother to know the reason. Not a single person in this society had the time to say a single hello to her even once in a year. No neighbour or the security in charge had time to think that why had she not paid the maintenance charge for 6 months? Rituraj said that he had informed the police via mail that his mother was not responding to his call, but the police did not take the proper steps. Society said that they had informed the police regarding non-payment of maintenance charge for 6 months, while police said that they did not receive any complaint. Is this end over here?

Don’t you think that in her last moment she might have thought that, it might have been better for her if she belonged to any poor family? If her son was not so educated, he would have remained with her in last moment of her life. Is this what education means? In her last moments, she might have needed water but no one was there to help her. A lady was forced to live alone in that age when she required her family and their emotional support the most. Is it a natural death or people made her realize that it is better to be dead rather that living in this selfish world, where your own son and daughter needs you no more.

A similar incident took place in a village where a lady committed suicide because her son had beaten her and she could not accept the fact emotionally that she has beaten by her son and committed suicide? Was that suicide or murder? Today senior citizens are emotionally and physically abused by their family. Most of the families start pretending the senior citizen as waste of their house and make them bound to live alone and die in grief and sorrow.
Physical abuse is visible, so if such incident happens police steps in. But what about emotional and psychological abuse that a person can only feel.

Seniors citizens should be treasured by everyone and their experience and wisdom should be taken in account while making important decisions in life. Only government is not responsible for everything. We also have some responsibility towards our parents. Our parents provide us with all the facility in order to achieve our dream but this does not mean that one day we leave them alone for better lifestyle. It is responsibility of every child to take care of their parents. In our country, living with daughter after her marriage is considered a disgrace. While most of the daughters refuse to take care of her parents’ due to pressure from their husband or in-laws. But it is the duty of every child to take care of their parents when they need their help the most. There are many incidents like Mrs. Sahni in our country but only some cases see the light while others remain unknown. But the most important fact is that one day you will also fall under this stage of life. So, it is best to ensure that your children learn to respect and support elders and the best way to teach them is to show how you treat your parents in their old age. Not only teaching is important but leading with your own example is necessary. Or if you neglect this today, you might be the next Mrs. Sahni.

-Kritika Singh

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