Understanding the Plight of India’s Elderly

NPR’s “Morning Edition” program recently aired a piece about a common situation experienced by India’s elderly citizens. Many Indian children ride the wave of globalization to Western countries where they pursue academic and job opportunities. While their successes are a major source of pride for the parents, their decision to start their adult lives outside of their homeland leaves aging parents in a precarious situation; no one is around to help when older family members can no longer take care of themselves.

August 5, 2010

Indian Jewish woman who benefits from JDC's social assistance programs for the elderly.

NPR’s “Morning Edition” program recently aired a piece about a common situation experienced by India’s elderly citizens. Many Indian children ride the wave of globalization to Western countries where they pursue academic and job opportunities. While their successes are a major source of pride for the parents, their decision to start their adult lives outside of their homeland leaves aging parents in a precarious situation; no one is around to help when older family members can no longer take care of themselves.

The piece also touches on another sad reality that confounds an already unfortunate situation. There is a severe shortage of services for seniors, including one of the most necessary resources—old-age homes. While senior/nursing facilities are an embraced pillar of American society, they carry a stigma throughout India. For years, the few elder institutions in existence were home to the most destitute, the most unfortunate, the poorest ones left without families. On this front, it seems, not much has changed.

While this bit of news disheartens us, it also reminds us of how important our services for elderly members of India’s Jewish community really are. In addition to helping with immediate material needs in the form of cash assistance, healthcare, and meals-on-wheels, we also support the Bayiti Home for the Aged which provides a comforting environment for a small group of needy citizens living in Mumbai and surrounding areas.

The piece did mention that India’s “government recently had to pass a law requiring children to take care of their parents.” Hopefully this ruling will help grow the availability of quality support services for the country’s aging population.

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