Have you ever been to an old age home?
Yes? No? No problem! If you have been to one, you will be able to connect to what you will be reading below. In case, haven’t been, you will feel the urge to visit the nearest old-age home at least once!
I have been to a few but that was when I was a kid. That time, I never understood why so many old people were living together and why we have gone there to distribute stuff! We generally went there at our birthday or birthday of a loved one who is no more with us.
Years passed, moved out of my hometown, got occupied in studies, college, and other regular-life stuff. Never got a chance to think about Vriddhaashrams. Recently, in May this year, I lost my mother. After a few weeks, my father wished to visit an old age home, to meet the residents and help them out with whatever we can. My father, who always keeps himself involved in social works, took me with him to one of the old-age homes in our hometown.
This time, the visit was quite different from the previous ones.
- I am old enough to understand the reason for all the Baba-Ammas to be at that place
- My emotional senses are developed
- I understand how the world works!
Please note that most of such old age homes (or orphanages, and similar organizations) run with the contribution from the public. In April and May 2021, Covid19 cases were at their peak, and most of these organizations were facing a financial crunch, due to no visits/donations.
Firstly, we met the caretakers and they helped us with the arrangements. We had planned for lunch and the distribution of fruits. The caretaker told us that they lost 3 residents during the lockdown. Adding to this, no one came to collect the body for the funeral even after getting the information.
This was just the start of what I was going to experience that day. We met many of the residents, gents on the ground floor, and ladies on the first floor. They had a common area for eating, praying, activities, and a common ground for long walks.
Everyone was happy to see us, as we called everyone for the lunch. They soon arrived at the common eating area and lunch went well. We noticed that two of the male residents did not come to the dining hall. On enquiring, I came to know that both of these people are not well. I wanted to meet these two and asked the same to the caretaker.
Now, let me take you to the life story of these two residents, which would have been unbelievable if I would not have visited this place:
One of the residents was an ex-lawyer of Prayagraj High Court. He did great in his life, built a nice home, and made her daughter educated enough so that she can settle in the USA. But suddenly, he started facing mental problems, and his family decided to leave him. Luckily, someone dropped him at this old-age home. Wife lives with her brothers and no one wants to get in touch with him.
Caretakers are helping him in the treatment of his mental issues, and he is being given injections in intervals of 15-20 days. He wants to get connected with the family, but no one wants to talk to him or keep any sort of relation.
The second case was even worse! This old man was from a well-to-do family from Delhi. He has been kicked-out out of his own house since he was not an active earning machine anymore. He used to beg on roads for food and sleep on garbage. Again, luckily, someone dropped him at this old-age home.
Caretakers told that he was in such a bad condition, that no one was willing to go near him as he was sleeping on roadside garbage for months. But, they cleaned him up and provided clean clothes. His wife called, but not to know that he is fine or not, she called only to check whether caretakers required money to keep him in the old-age home, and not send him back!
He was living here for the last 4 months. He has not eaten anything from the last 2 days. I personally asked him, why has he left food and told him that it’ll affect his health. His answer gave me goosebumps. He said “Beta, ab dekh liya sab duniya me, ab antim yatra ka samay aa gaya hai.” [Son, There’s nothing more left to see, now my time has come].
Most of the things that happen around us, unknowingly change the way we live. But few of such experiences push you to think about these things and the hows and whys of it.
Many of you may think that such incidents are common in our society and there are even worse things happening! I totally agree, but that does not mean that we can ignore this. We should definitely lend a hand to the parts of society which are in problem and help them if we are capable of helping in whatever ways!
- If you expect, you are investing in a risky stock. It may turnout to be a reward, or may be a risk! I would say do not expect anything from anyone, but I know that it is impossible for many of us, since most of us are too emotional for this and that’s okay. Atleast try to limit your expectations and become self dependent.
Most of the old people in the old-age home were there because they had set some expectations and gave everything to their family. In return, they got this!
- Continuing from the above point and mentioning it again as it’s important and very practical. Keep something saved for yourself.
- Try to change your thinking with time. This one’s also very important. There are many cases where family members find it difficult to live with the elder person in their family due to difference in opinion. For few of you, this may not be a big deal, but for a few, this becomes a major issue. We all will age, and promise your self that you will age well. You will keep yourself fit and updated, both phyically and mentally. We need to keep the family values intact as well as understand the new way of life. Sustainable living!
- Discuss/Talk! There are so many people who do not talk about things happening to them, with their family. It’s important to discuss. Please talk about the ups and downs, about the sad and happy parts of the day, about the job pressure or financial issues. If you’ll talk, you will be stable. If you keep things to yourself, you may suffer from depression.
Visit such places around you at least once a year or help them in the ways you can. Stay healthy. Stay happy.
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