Retirement Homes and Old Age Homes came into existence somewhere in the early 19th century in Europe, when families in the west found it hard to take care of the elderly. They had moved away from family systems and the world, having become an economic entity, where both heads of the family worked, found it hard to take care of their aged parents. Pakistan still enjoys a good structured family system where the elderly are respected and taken care of but still there is need for such retirement homes.

Initially the church groups had started forming these institutions in response to the miseries of the needy, insane and exclude humans. This is considered purely a Western ideology, however, these institutions have been sprouting in our society as a result of globalization. Although majority of our society still views old-age homes as accursed, my opinion has shifted. We are slipping into the western culture where the elderly are put aside, now our parents are being told not to interfere in our lives and not to guide our children. To me it is kinder to put these parents in old homes rather than isolate them inside the house and treat them badly.

They do have some advantages as they provide a high level of nursing care with some social events and group activities and three meals a day. They even inspire many people to earn again and come out of despair and depression and provide them with the company of their peers. We all fear ‘old-age homes,’ for they include the composite horrors of poverty, disgrace, loneliness, humiliation, abandonment and degradation but that was the past. Now, there are excellent facilities provided for the elderly (who have money) and a good life. But the dilemma of being rejected and left outside the family circle still exists even if the facility is like a four star hotel. Let’s hope and pray that Allah gives us the strength to keep our parents near us and be able to take care of them and receive their blessings.

AROOSA NAEEM,

Lahore, April 30.