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    Wednesday, May 10, 2017

    Oldage homes are growing in Pakistan- split of parents from children

    ‘’Nobody on earth can ever love you more than your parents’’.
    In Pakistan, parents are considered as next to God. Here people respect their parents so much that they consider it as a sin to disobey their parents. Pakistani parents expect their children to look after them in old age. When their son gets married, they are overjoyed by the arrival of daughter in law, feeling more secure and comfortable. Most of the Pakistani families respect their parents and take good care of them but unfortunately there are people who treat their parents as liabilities and making them feel neglected. Of course, there are rare cases when parents themselves prefer the privacy of old age homes but in the majority of cases, it is the cold attitude of children that forces parents to move to old age homes.
    Because of the following reasons, elderly people take the painful decision to move to these homes.*Sometimes grown-ups fail to realize their duty and are so much engrossed in their personal lives that they feel it a burden to keep the parents with them. They feel it as an interference in their personal lives and eventually tell their parents that they cannot keep them.
    * The ego clash between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law causes too much stress in the house and the situation comes at such the worst that they cannot live together.

    * New generation is becoming more materialistic and their attitude towards parents is changing. They seem to have lost their patience


    * Many people experience loneliness and depression due to stay in old age homes as a result of living alone or due to lack of close family ties and reduced connections with their culture of origin, which results in an inability to actively participate in the community activities.

    * Stay in old age home may lead to serious health-related consequences. It is one of the 3 main factors leading to depression and an important cause of suicide and suicide attempts. Loneliness was related to poor psychological adjustment, dissatisfaction with family and social relationships.

    * The presence of perceived loneliness in old age home contributed strongly to the effect of depression on mortality. Thus, in the oldest old, depression is associated with mortality only when feelings of loneliness are present. Depression is a problem that often accompanies loneliness. In many cases, depressive symptoms such as withdrawal, anxiety, lack of motivation and sadness mimic and mask the symptoms of loneliness


    It’s not an easy decision for the parents. But, they have to move to these houses when they can no longer tolerate the insult or they are told by their stone- hearted children to leave the house. Old age home is their last resort or where else would they go? People must realize their responsibility towards the parents who need physical and emotional support in the late years of their life. In a country like Pakistan where old people are given a lot of respect there should be no need of old age homes because their children should take care of them. If more old age homes would be there, their children will leave them there. Pakistan will lose its traditions by this step. It is our primary duty to look after parents till the end of their life. They have done lot for us. What we are today is only because of them. They have sacrificed many things in their life for our sake. We can say they are responsible for our physical existence without which we would not have survived on this earth. As such we must not encourage setting up of more and more Old Age Homes. We shall think of looking after them and also educate others also to follow this in their families. They are the greatest asset to us. They are the light of our life. Let our parents live long with lots of happiness. This is equal to worshipping the God.
    I had no idea that we have proper old age homes in Pakistan. I was surprised to find out about this “Old Age Happy Home”, in Lahore. The existence of this home for elderly citizens made me happy and sad at the same time- happy because these people had a home to live in, sad because they felt the need to look for one. They were attired in shabby clothes and their logging did not fare better either. There was one large dormitory for all 16 men to share (and all were above 60 year old), with broken beds and dirty bed-sheets. Their living conditions were of really low standards. I thought, at first, that they might belong to uneducated low-income families… I can be judgmental at times! 
    The group of elderly gentlemen met our eagerly awaiting group in the only large room in the house but were very shy to start a conversation. This left the task of opening up the conversation  to us girls, a task at which we are just so good  They thought right away that we were only visiting them for promotional purposes and sadly that was the truth too  We started talking to them individually at a personal level, to truly understand them and make them feel comfortable. Soon enough we totally forgot about why we were there and we all felt that to make them smile was the only meaningful thing in the world. And what a joy it was! All of them started introducing themselves and gradually opened up to us. Eventually, they lightened up and started sharing the invaluable experiences of their lives. Everyone helped each other as some of the older gentlemen had trouble speaking. It is heartening to note that almost all of them avoided talking about their children. It was a really sensitive topic for them. They would rather talk about politics, India-Pakistan partition (as most were born before it), sacrifices made at that time, their educational and Professional backgrounds.
    One of the gentlemen reminisced in painful detail the tragic incidents of Indo-Pak partition that he had witnessed first-hand as a young boy. With deep sorrow in his voice and a far-off look in his eyes he narrated his ordeal and reminded us how our generation has forgotten the sacrifices our forefathers made. He was a retired-army officer and belonged to an educated family, having done Chemical Engineering before joining the army. He despised current politics and politicians, especially the ex-President of Pakistan, Mr. Asif Ali Zardari (Don’t we all! :P) Most of them were engineers and one of them was even an eye specialist. They all were aware of recent events of the country and held immense wisdom of life and how one should live. They were so happy to talk to us and tell us their stories. I was shocked to see such learned men ending up there in the Old Age Home, living in such poor conditions. Pakistan not only is wasting immense talent in the youth due to lack of opportunities but is also wasting great wisdom in the older generation by not valuing their life-experiences. I guess the former is because of the later There was grief in their eyes but they tried to cover it with their smiles. Most of them were left by their children, especially sons, or were forced by them to leave their homes. Some didn’t have a son and couldn’t live with their daughters as it’s not appropriate in Pakistani society. I pondered at this twisted sense of honor! Something is seriously amiss with a society whose customs of so-called ‘honor’ make one dump their aging parents onto the mercy of the world. I wonder what honor is in it? I wonder whose honor was salvaged, or ravaged, in this ‘katha’ of illiteracy! The only winner I see here is bigotry. Left to the loneliness of their solitary lives, most of these old gentlemen had convinced themselves that somehow it was their own mistakes that had led them here. They blamed themselves for their strict ways with their children. I wish I could convince them otherwise, for unimaginable is the pain of sorrow undone and darkest is the sorrow of self-pity and self-blame.
    I would love to go there again and talk to them, as it gives them hope and joy and one gets to learn a lot from elders. I would encourage you all to go visit them too and donate if possible. Even if you don’t donate, just visiting will be a great pleasure for them but will be a far enriching experience for you in return. There is little we can give to them more valuable than a kind word, a kind gesture, but they have a lot more to give to us, which can be invaluable learning for our generations to come. 
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    Item Reviewed: Oldage homes are growing in Pakistan- split of parents from children Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Abdul Sattar Qamar