The old age homes in Kerala are increased day by day. Kerala, the state that boasts of 100% literacy rates is also unique in the fact that it is one of the states with the largest proportion of senior citizens. Over the years, the state has achieved high education standards, better life expectancy and lower population growth. However, these indicators of social progress do not highlight a new crisis faced by the state – a surge in the population of elderly.
As per the statistics, the proportion of elderly in the population of Kerala is around 20%. This figure might see further rise as the population growth is a mere 4.6% in the state. While India’s population grew by 17.6% or so, some districts in Kerala, such as Pathanamthitta, have registered a negative population growth.
As the agrarian society of Kerala gave way to a more consumer-centric society in the past decades, the state began facing many problems like the migration of talent to greener pastures, acute shortage of labor, rising number of the elderly, and a hefty pension bill for the state government machinery among others. The joint family system has become a tale of the past and in their places, the state witnessed old age homes and elder care home mushrooming across the length and breadth of the state.
While most people look down upon the old age homes and elderly day care centers as something deplorable, they might actually prove to be the solace that the senior citizens are looking for. As one in every fourth family has someone living in abroad, the number of senior citizens left alone is also on the rise. As the youngsters go out of the state in search of a living, the elderly are left to fend for themselves. Many people prefer to leave their aged parents in old age homes as these places would offer them safety, security and care. Although the children who leave their parents in the old age homes could be looked down upon by the society, many feel that it is better than abandoning them and leaving them all alone.
To cater to the increased number of NRI’s and their elderly parents, a large number of old age homes have come up in the state. In many places, the concept of elderly day care (just like a child day care) is also becoming popular.
The advantage of old age homes in kerala, is that it would offer the elderly some company during their sunset years, instead of solitude. They would be taken care of – physically, medically and socially.
However, if someone with passion and compassion does not run these old age homes, it could prove difficult to the inmates. But, a well managed old age home could provide the elderly with companionship, care and an atmosphere of happiness, which would not be there if they were living alone. It is the case with daycare, which could keep them engaged and active during the day.
It would not be surprising if the idea catches on and gain popularity in the days to come.
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