Old Age Homes – Are Children Always to Blame?

As children we are always taught to respect our parents. Parents are God in human forms, one should worship one’s parents and it is the duty of the children to take care of their parents in their old age, these are some diktats that have been floating around in our society for centuries.

Leaving Parents In Old Age Homes – Are Children Always to Blame?

However today we are witnessing a massive increase in the number of old age homes, or the more fashionable, retirement homes. Aged people are becoming more and more isolated and youngsters have less and less patience in handling them or adjusting with them. Many high earners and men and women with class and status in society can’t stand the sight of their aged and ailing parents and leave them to wither away in obscure old age homes, not even looking back once at the person who was the prime reason for their existence.

It really wrenches our heart to think about such suffering that the aged have to undergo, isn’t it? However, today I do not intend to talk on this often discussed topic. Yes I agree that a large number of senior citizens are often abandoned by their own kith and kin and left to rot in old age homes. However, there is also another side to the coin. There are also a sizable number of men and women who are forced to take the decision of leaving their parents in old age homes, because their parents leave them no other choice with their attitude and behaviour.

We humans, as we have so often heard, are social animals. We live in families unlike other animals who go separate ways from their parents after they grow up, we generally still care for them, till the end of their lives. At least it is true to a large extent in India. However, in this social setup, we often come across individuals who care nothing for family or relationships. For them, their wants and needs have to be satisfied, by any means. They give two pence if someone in the family needs their attention.

When such persons marry – and yes, in our country they get married whether they want to or not – the number of people get affected as their narcissism increases manifold. They won’t adjust with the missus. They won’t approve of their son, and almost always, the daughter-in-law (daughter and son-in-law is also true, but in the Indian setup, it is the son on whom the burden of taking care of the parents falls).

The children of such narcissistic parents undergo a turbulent childhood, and they grow up with serious shortcomings in some or other aspect of their behaviour. It might not be explicitly evident, but most of them will be affected in one way or another.

Many of such children will try to go separate ways from their father at the first opportunity that presents itself. A person I know went away and settled in the US, leaving the uncaring father behind, and shows no inclination of returning even after a decade. However, there are persons who still take care of such parents, in spite of their cold attitude. Sadly, despite all the love and kindness those children shower on their parents, the parents refuse to let them live in peace. They bring home one problem or another and make the life of the children a hell.

I know many who read this may gape at what I have written, or vehemently oppose it, but I sat down to write this because in the recent days I have been a witness to the turmoil caused in a friend’s family due to the narcissistic attitude of the old man of the house. The son is fully stressed out due to the problems his dad raises, but is still reluctant to send him away. He fears he would be failing in his duties if he put his father in an old age home.And that after nearly twenty years of serving him with all obedience and humility.

My question is, is leaving such parents in an old age home wrong? If the son can get some peace of mind, and maybe, so may the father, by being separate, why can they not do that and move on with their lives? Should the son carry a guilt in his heart of having admitted such a man to an old age home?

I would say no. There is nothing wrong if the son admits the father in a old age home, whether or not the father agrees. And if anyone raises the social stigma associated with throwing away parents in destitute homes, I would call the person blind.

What are your views on this?

Yamini is a software professional turned work-at-home-mom. Amidst her domestic responsibilities and a very demanding 2.5 year old son, she snatches time to write academic papers, freelance content, fiction and poetry. Her stories and poetry have been published in various online literary magazines and anthologies by Penguin Books and Cyberwit Publications. Yamini voices her thoughts now and then at http://myexpressionsandme.blogspot.in/. She can be reached at http://www.facebook.com/YaminiVijendranAuthor.

  • And then,in some cases, it becomes a necessity. In a nuclear family, specially in smaller towns, kids grow and mostly settle in far off places where they can establish their career. Parents are comfortable in their old homes and feel lonely in the cities where their kids and grand kids are busy with their lives. Ultimately, it is a matter of individual choice – the kind of life one wants to lead.

    • khushboo sawant

      sorry dear………u will realise this when u grow old and your children with whom u have a lot of expectation will send you to an old age home….

      • Surojit Ghosh

        Dont be a naive mam. You need to judge both sides unbiasedly and not based upon what you see at your home. Ponder dear.

  • Fab

    You have raised some very valid points, Yamini. While I couldn’t dream of sending my parents away, there are some families like you mentioned, with extremely fragile egos at play. A lot of people give the elders the benefit of doubt, saying that old age affects their patience and judgement. But what about people who have been mean all their lives?? Another fact is that seniors are increasingly on their own when their children get jobs and move abroad with their families. These seniors are insistent on staying in the country they’ve lived in all their lives but the children worry about their aged parents living alone, with potential health and security issues. What is the solution then?

  • Sunita Rajwade

    I agree with you Yamini – and sometimes the parents themselves prefer being in old age homes where they can talk with others who have similar problems and above all enjoy “bitching” about their ungrateful children!

    • Praveen Chavali

      You are right absolutely. That is the mistake of children/parents who are not able to communicate with each other and understand each other. Time/Money will be the reason in most of the cases. Stupids do not understand that even $10 million cannot make a dead person alive. So, spend time with each other while alive and live the moment of life happily ‘together’.

  • usha menon

    As far as possible the old people must live with their children. This gives them emotional satisfaction. They must understand that in their younger days they lived life to the fullest. Their children are grown up and can take their own decisions, hence let them have the freedom they deserve. The problem is that elders try to enforce their orders, which is the root cause of troubles. I and my husband are living with my son and daughter-in-law for the last several years without any problem.

    • sonia sethi

      You are indeed one lucky person to have understood it timely. I have been married for 24 yrs now. Came as a bride when i was just 21 yrs. Almost 24yrs of unconditional love i gave to this family. Have 2 grown up children of 22 & 20 yrs. The elder one is a son who is on the autism spectrum, presently studying law…i too studied law with him so as to enable him to understand better with my support. I finished my studies and have started practising. Unfortunately my children are bearing the brunt of my absence. My mil is a very dominating person n can go to any extent to drive us out of the house, which is theirs. Fil does not apply his brains and dances on the tunes of my mil. We served them for 24yrs and now they are in their late 70’s. Now my husband who’s the only son has decided to move out of their house. I have 2 sil also. The younger one’s son is also living in this house to pursue his studies. There is constant comparison between the children . Needless to say it is unhealthy. It kills me to leave them at this age. Who will look after them. So also the social stigma attached to it. Please guide me as i have been spending sleepless nights on this issue. They think we want their property. That is the last thing on our minds. By the grace of God we have 2 houses of our own. At times just to prove a point that we don’t need their property i want to move out.

    • ibrahim

      YES YOU ARE RIGHT

  • ratnesh

    i iuv my mom nd dad

  • I agree with that…..the children are not always to blame……there’s another aspect to it…. my neighbour’s son tried unsuccessfully to take his parents to the US with him but the father would not budge, tore the passports as he did not want to leave his place of birth. Last year the father passed away, leaving behind his 90 yr old wife, and now the son cannot take his mother with him to the US, due to various reasons, like non availability of insurance at that age, and high cost of hospitalisation. After 1 year of struggling with errant/ thieving full time maids, the decision is finally taken to send her to an well equipped old age home. it weighs heavily on the son’s conscience, but he does not have an alternative.

  • alok

    I highly object to the author of this article and she has no right to
    write of what she has written over here ..I think she forgot the holy
    books whether its a hindu holy book or quran or bible ..There is always a
    fine line been written about how the sons and the daughters should
    respect and take care of their old aged parents …I think the author
    needs to know that there is a big difference for a man who is without a
    wife and with a wife in his old age ..he may feel abandoned and
    neglected and maybe having some expectations from his kids .if he is
    without his soulmate …it does make a lot of difference if the old wife
    and husband are together where there is someone to talk to ..to share
    too and so forth…

    Is the writer over here is promoting that the
    sons and daughters have the best way out by throwing their old age
    parents in old age home …ridiculous …how could she being a wife and a
    mother herself could be writing such nonsence article …

    I think she forgot that Karma comes back naturally…You reap what you
    sow …dont give these teachings to your kids or they will also throw u
    in old age home …

    • Surojit Ghosh

      She dont give a fuck to what her children will do to her in old age because she is not a paranoid like you. Come out of your holy books son. That served 5000 years back and has got zero implication today. And one more thing bro (you really need these two lines)- Dont judge a book by its cover / There is always a other side to a coin. Now ponder if you got brains.

  • Shobna S. Iyer

    I don’t think we should view old-age homes as a form of punishment at all. If the parents have the savings at hand and are mentally alert, they may just choose to move to a home. All the amenities are available, one finds new friends, does the things they like to and leave the kids to their own life. Why associate it with bitter feelings?

    My husband and I have discussed this many times. We would like our kid to manage and enjoy his life, with or without us. As long as both of us are alive, it may be feasible to live in a nuclear/ joint setup but one will inevitably outlive the other. Then are we to pile on to our kid?

  • ibrahim

    boar i am a a thirteen age old boy and i know that it is wrong and you shames