Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Old age care

All over the world, meeting the needs of the elderly is becoming a critical issue. In 2001 India had a population of about 76 million senior citizens and it keeps growing steadily. The problem of taking care of them is fast reaching crisis proportions particularly in India’s Kerala State.

The reasons for this situation include replacement of joint family system by nuclear units, migration of children, changes in attitudes and values, cultural gap, and difficulty in obtaining domestic help. Also, the younger generation often fails to understand that old age brings several problems that lead to emotional and physical stress and strain and that the elders have to be provided proper atmosphere, facilities and assistance to live in comfort with dignity and delight.

The vast majority of people do want to look after their parents. But they can’t give up jobs to tend to the elders. On the other hand, the elders may not want to stay with their children in strange places where they could turn out to be misfits. It is not just a question of money. Often the elders have sufficient funds to live without taxing their children. The problem is the lack of appropriate facilities. Actually this is the world scenario in the field of old age care – growing demand, dearth of facilities, and escalating costs.

Ten years back I had worked out the details of a project in Olavipe to provide, on a commercial basis, top class facilities for senior citizens. We had ideal land (still have), management expertise, and project funds would not have been a problem. The scheme was to be based on the concept of delaying the onset of diseases. This is a thrust area that would curtail medical costs considerably and improve the quality of life of elders.

The idea was to have two separate wings – one to offer comfortable and enjoyable independent living for the reasonably healthy elders and the other to care for the geriatric cases in a separate housing. A great deal of detailing was done to make it an ideal place for elders.

Then we ran into a roadblock – Coastal Restricted Zone (CRZ) rules which proscribed major constructions near water bodies subject to tidal action. The project was shelved. Later on the rules were relaxed, but by then we had turned to other things.

I plan to do a post detailing the facilities that we had planned, for two reasons. One is that it might be of help to people who plan to put up such facilities. The other is that it could be a sort of benchmark for those who are looking for places to spend their sunset years.


Also see:

OLAVIPE: Gift of the waves to Kerala, God's Own Country.

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