Ignoring Aging Parents: A dangerous trend
“When a man observes that the skin of his body has become loose and wrinkled, the hair has become mature, the son has also become a father, then he should leave the worldly pleasures and take shelter in the forest"…. Manusmriti
Post by on Monday, January 24, 2022
There is a worrisome question that why is there an increase in old age homes in India? Why are the conditions of neglect and harassment of the elderly increasing continuously? Why are the children of modern age becoming insensitive and self-centred? This topic of concern and contemplation is important because during a recent survey, tragic and ironic situations related to the elderly have come to the fore. 40 percent of the old people living in old age homes in Lucknow, Jhansi, Varanasi and Mathura said that their children do not care at all, food is not even given as desired, neglect and torture of children is making their life hell. 13.78 percent said that children do not want to live together.
This pain compels the old man to come out of the moment of suffocation, stress and neglect and go to the old age home. Non-fulfillment of needs by the child is a violation of human rights like leading an independent life with dignity. Various steps have been taken by the governments and courts from time to time to curb this, but the dissolution of joint families and the increasing trend of nuclear families have made this situation out of control. A big question is how to stop this wrong flow of neglect of the elderly? Because this thinking has not only made the life of the elderly difficult but has also increased the emotional gap and tarnished the family tradition of India.
Old age is the dawn of life. In fact, in the present era of hustle and bustle, economic importance, new thinking and so-called modern beliefs, discrepancies and adversaries have taken birth; one of them is neglect of the elderly. In fact, old age is a life filled with many physical ailments, mental stresses and other sufferings and sometimes the family members, especially the young family members do not take care of them or cause mental anguish to them. That old age becomes a curse for the old. That is why it is said in the Manusmriti that - "When a man observes that the skin of his body has become loose and wrinkled, the hair has become mature, the son has also become a father, then he should leave the worldly pleasures and take shelter in the forest." because it is there that he can prepare himself for the attainment of salvation.
Not only destitute and needy old people are coming to old age homes, but there are more number of people who have their own house, wealth and prosperity, but they are alienated. Children are also becoming self-centred by giving up their feelings and values, focusing on their own comforts. In the country where the concept of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” took birth, where family tradition has become a role model for the world, the definition of family is shrinking. One reason for this is that even after many painful circumstances, the elderly do not want to take any harsh step due to attachment of children. Attention is also to be paid to the fact that the question is not just about providing two-time bread, but to give the old man the right to lead not to let them feel loneliness. Our Indian culture considers elders as God. There are many such examples in history that on the orders of the parents, incarnated men like Lord Shri Ram left the royal palace and roamed in the forests, mother-father devotee Shravan Kumar made his blind parents sit in the kanwar and fulfilled their desire of spiritual tour. Then why in modern society the distance between old parents and their children is increasing?
The reality is that the present generation is so busy with themselves that they don’t have the time to concentrate on the elderly. Today no one likes to have any conversation with the elders of the family, to respect their feelings, to listen to them. When they guide and interrupt the disorderly, free, independent, modern and progressive youth, they also have to hear contempt, reprimand and bitter words in response. In view of these tragic situations, Disraeli had said that youth is a mistake, full humanity a struggle and old age repentance.' It is true that due to generation gap, western culture, so called modern lifestyle and new thinking there is a clash between the old and the new generation.
Today, along with fulfilling our duties towards the elderly and the aged, try to give them a proper place in the society so that at this stage of life, when they need love and care the most, they can enjoy life to the fullest. Elders also have to be aware of their own self and responsibilities. Today's old-age society is frustrated and neglected. They are unhappy because they are considered in some way useless in the society. There is a great need to make concerted efforts to get rid of this sorrow and panic in the aged society. It is a fact that the bigger a tree is, the more inclined it is, that is, the more humble and fruitful it is to others, the same applies to that section of the society. The so called young and highly educated generation leaves them in old age homes by calling them old. The so called individualistic and facilitative thinking has made the family structure ugly. The reality of the society being created today is scary and senseless. For how long will an old man keep patience after losing his life-respect and self-pride and why will he keep it when everything around life is scattered, lost, fades and becomes insensitive. Don't let old life become synonymous with repentance.
It is a harsh truth that old age is an inevitable truth of life. One who is young today will be old tomorrow too, but the problem begins when the younger generation starts looking at their elders with disregard and leaves them helpless to fight with their old age and loneliness. Today, the elderly suffer from loneliness, neglect by family members, and scorn, and slander, fear of being thrown out of the house or wandering here and there in search of a roof. The serious problems that have arisen for the elderly today are due to the changing social values, thinking of the new generation, rise of inflation and limited to one's own children and wife under consumerist culture and cosmopolitan modern perception. For an ideal and balanced social system, it is necessary to have a healthy and positive attitude and thinking towards the elderly and take meaningful initiatives to keep them safe from pain, suffering and anguish.
(The Author is Journalist, columnist, writer and member of Rajbhasha Committee, Ministry of Home Affairs. President: Sukhi Parivar Foundation