The United Nations Population Fund and Help Age India estimate the number of elderly people to increase to 173 million by 2026. In India, there is serious demand for housing for senior citizens. The question of separate housing for senior citizens raised a serious question on our traditional values and cultural ethics too.

Recently, International Senior Citizens Day was observed across the globe. Of course, we observed the day in India too. But, as the question of responsibility for our elderly guardians and parents is concerned, the reality is the multiple openings of old age home across the nation. The United Nations Population Fund and Help Age India estimate the number of elderly people to increase to 173 million by 2026. In India, there is serious demand for housing for senior citizens. The question of separate housing for senior citizens raised a serious question on our traditional values and cultural ethics too.

If we penetrate the issue of separate housing for senior citizens logically, we have two different views in our society. One is the irresponsible behavior of child which must be curbed and the government should take cognizance of the issue. However, other point needs our serious attention. The ultra-modern metro life-style, MNC office culture and working culture have made us helpless. Despite of our strong desire to spend time with our parents and family, we don’t get time to execute our moral duty. This work-culture has reduced us to be a machine wherein a circuit of input and output is working, thereby converting us into a resources with no time for anything else. Of course, such pathetic situation of having no time for self has made us of nowhere. There are various examples where one has to leave the job to help his parents. Is it not the real issues? Should we not talk about this on International Senior Citizens Day?

Dr. Vijay Gurjar is MD in Geriatric Medicine in India’s premier health institute AIIMS. He has felt the pangs of elderly people visiting All India Institute of Medical Science. Their complaining conversation of having no time has made him pathetic. He has penned down his emotional views in his letter to the Prime Minister.  Read the letter here.

Dear Hon’ble Prime Minister

First of all, I would like to congratulate you on International Senior Citizens Day 2019 and I wish the elderly people living in India and the world a healthy and prosperous life.

As we all know the number of elderly people is increasing all over the world and our country India which is young today will become elderly in the coming few years.

I am happy that our country is also constantly making necessary preparations for this.

As an elderly doctor in AIIMS New Delhi, I hear and understand the pain of many elders and their families every day.

I want to share that pain with you today, as we all know that in the race of modernity and development, today our young people are forced to leave their parents behind in the village and move forward in the race of life in the metro cities.

Elderly people from the village feel uncomfortable with their children in the city environment and are forced to live alone in their village. It is the same with the urban elderly whose children have settled in abroad.

I want to draw your attention to a problem that I felt when a patient was admitted here.

Because AIIMS is a referral center, only serious patients are admitted here and a support or family person is required with them.

When a patient is suffering from a serious illness, it takes a long time for treatment. In such situation, the family members living here face drastic situation of not getting leave or job-loss and of course financial burden in the case of job loss. In such a situation, children are not able to take leave or to take care of elderly parents and many times they have to leave their jobs.

It is very painful that such children leave their jobs to take care of their parents. But, suddenly their families also have to struggle hard to financial problems. Thanks to their courage that they resign their jobs to take care of parents.

As there is no any provision in our country to take leave for taking care of parents, they have to sacrifice their jobs and career. Such people should be honored for risking the career for taking care of parents, grandparents, and other relatives.

I would like to request the government on this International Senior Citizens Day to grant leave in both government and private organization for taking care of parents and elderly people. India is known for its traditional values and ethics and is considered ideal for serving our elders, our culture and values ​​inspire us that we should take care of our elders. But the paucity of time is distracting us from doing our moral duty.

Our government has made provisions for punishment for children not serving the elderly, in the same way, a provision should be made to grant leave for serving the elderly people. I want the government to support such children and not let their feelings be sold in the hands of compulsions.

To save the elderly from loneliness, even in times of illness, there should be a plan to provide regular leave to their family members so that they can spend time with their elders. There should be a provision to provide special leave to children of elderly patients in case of cancer, dementia or any other major operation.

I request you to give appropriate guidelines to the concerned government officials to formulate policies in this regard.

I am sure that you will understand my feelings along with millions and will take necessary action in this regard.

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