THE bitter truth about the International Day of Elders or Older Persons which falls today (Oct 1) … is that while many authorities, NGOs and INGOs, hold functions in view of it, thousands of elders are languishing … in hospitals and homes without the help of even their beloved sons and daughters. …

…[W]hen an elder who falls ill is admitted to one of our hospitals, the staff of the hospital would demand that one relative … stays back to attend to him or her. This is a difficult demand to fulfil for today’s smaller families. …

In villages where closely knit families live in cluster-like environments the family members … would in most cases find a relative to look after the patient … since the bond between relatives is still strong in villages. … The only option the patient’s relatives are left with [in urban areas] would be to seek the assistance … of a paid outsider, who waits nowadays at the gates of the hospital. …

Interestingly there are now unofficial firms that hire out such attendants and they charge fees ranging from Rs800 to Rs1,500 per day, something an ordinary family … would find difficult to afford. …

Even if the poor or middle-class families … agree to this … they would be exhausted within days and left destitute. …

This is the pathetic situation in many families. … It desperately demands the state and the society to frame an advanced healthcare system and a social welfare and social security system, especially for the elders. — (Oct 1)

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