Wednesday, August 22, 2012

OLD AGE CARE - THE “FAIT ACCOMPLI” OF LONGEVITY


OLD AGE CARE
THE “FAIT ACCOMPLI” OF LONGEVITY
Musings
By
VIKRAM KARVE

A few days ago I visited a distant relative, an uncle. He is 75 years old and his wife is 72 years old. Both their sons have migrated abroad to the USA and are married and live there with their families in America and have no intention of returning back to India.

In most cases, elderly Indian parents do not want to go to America to live permanently with their children who are settled over there.

But this couple was an exception – they wanted to spend the autumn of their lives with their children and grandchildren in America. Their children also wanted them to come and live with them over there.

“So why don’t you go to America and live in comfort with your kids?” I asked them.

My uncle beckoned me and took me to a bedroom.  There was frail old lady sleeping on the bed. My uncle pointed to her and said, “That is my widowed mother-in-law. She is 96 years old. We are stuck here because of her. We can’t go anywhere because of her – forget about going abroad, or outstation – we can’t even go out of our house for more than a few hours as we have to literally lock her inside and go out.”

“But aren’t there any other options?” I asked, and I mentioned the name of a famous senior citizens retirement home complex in Pune.

“To live in that retirement home you have to be independent and physically fit,” he said, “what my mother-in-law requires is an assisted living facility, and I don’t think there are any assisted living homes for senior citizens in Pune, or even in India for that matter; so there is no option for old people like her except to depend on relatives for care.”

“There is an attitudinal problem as well,” my 72 year old aunt spoke, “when my mother was healthier she was living with my brother in New York – in fact, my mother was quite a help to them as she looked after their kids and home while they both, my brother and his wife, worked. Once, when they had left her alone in New York and the rest of the family had gone on a vacation to Europe, my mother had a fall in the bathroom and broke her bones. After that, the doctors advised that the old lady must not live alone, so my brother wanted to send my mother to an old age home with assisted living facilities a few hours drive away from New York, but my mother refused to go to an old age home, and there were a lot of arguments with my sister-in-law who did not want to take the risk and responsibility of my mother, and the end result of all that was that my mother came back to India to live with us and is here with us for the last 20 years.”

“There is an emotional aspect as well,” my uncle said, “Abroad, especially in America, it is considered okay to live in an old age home, but in India this has negative connotations – the general impression is that only those parents who have been abandoned by their children go to old age homes.”

I looked at my 75 year old uncle. He was not in the best of health himself. He was suffering from diabetes and High BP, he had undergone a bypass heart surgery, he walked with a shuffle and he was almost deaf and could hear only with an hearing aid. His wife too was not in the pink of health, after all she was 72. Despite this, even at this old age, in the evening of their own lives, they were expected to look after and care for the old woman because there was nowhere for her to go.

This is the fait accompli of longevity.

VIKRAM KARVE 
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2012
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

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About 
Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer. Educated at IIT Delhi, ITBHU Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories, creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional research papers in journals and edited in-house journals for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram Karve has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing. Vikram lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

Vikram Karve Academic and Creative Writing Journal: http://karvediat.blogspot.com
Professional Profile Vikram Karve: http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve
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Vikram Karve Creative Writing Blog: http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/posts.htm
Email: vikramkarve@sify.com

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