Shunned by their families, old age homes last resort for elderly

ASAVARI SHARMA

When 70-year-old Edmund Pereira (name changed) breathed his last in Khanpur home in old Ahmedabad, no one came to know for three days. His death was discovered only when the suspicious neighbours pushed the panic button and recovered the body.

This is what prompted John D'Costa, president of the Catholic Association of Ahmedabad, to open an old age home in this part of the city inhabited by traditional Christian families.

"We didn't want this to happen to other old people whose children were working away from them," said D'Costa, whose father was Pereira's friend. This was also Ahmedabad's first Catholic old age home.

Sandeep Shah, managing trustee of Jivandhara Old Age Home in Narol, said, "There are four reasons why senior citizens start living in an old age home. First is when their children are settled abroad. Second is when the old are unmarried, widowed or childless. Third is when they only have a daughter. Lastly, when there are family problems; financial or emotional."

According to V G Pandya, manager of Jeevan Sandhya Home in Naranpura, the initial months are tough but once they find compatible people, it becomes easier. "Sometimes, regretful children come back to take their parents. But the parents don't always leave," he said.

An inmate of Jeevan Sandhya, Ekanta Makani (65), had problems with her daughter-in-law. "I used to live with my son and daughter-in-law in Mumbai. But my daughter-in-law ordered me to leave the house. So my unmarried daughter working in Ahmedabad left me here. This has been my home for three years. Now I spend time doing minor kitchen chores and chatting with other close inmates," she said. Makani is a native to Moti Monpari village of Junagadh.

Jigneshbhai Gordhanbhai, administrator at Shri Maganlal Trikamlal Trust Sanchalit Vrudhashram on Ashram Road, said, "Nowadays people live longer. There are four generations living under one roof. Earlier, it wasn't a problem but now it is. So there is arrangement for the old."

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