Ageing is a universal and natural process of gradually and spontaneous change. Demographers consider 65 years as the old age category for international classification of elderly people. These elderly people are the most vulnerable group towards chronic illness and functional disabilities. The world assembly on ageing adopted the population aged 60 or above as being elderly population and its main focus of concern, The United nation considers 60 years as its boundaries of old age.
According to the senior citizens act, 2063 (2006) ‘senior citizens’ means a citizen of Nepal having completed the age of 60 years. “Care center” means a home,
shelter or other structure of similar nature established and operated under this act for maintenance and care of senior citizens with or without collecting fees.
According to the act of senior citizens, 2072 (2015) senior citizens will have the right to special protection and social security from the state.
Old age homes are for old people where they are taken care. The old age homes are the institutions run by a trust or individuals. Old people who are alone or don’t have anyone to take care of them live in those homes. An old age home is also known as a retirement home. It is a place where older people gather or live. It’s usually a group setting with multiple rooms or apartments inside. Due to rapid migration, urbanization, and other reasons, society has started to witness family crisis that come in the form of health crisis, financial crisis, disengagement between family members and family separation, which in some cases also leads to relationships breakdown. As a result of all these, elderly population are gradually beginning to live in old age homes.
Living in old age homes:
In most cases, senior citizens living in old age homes often enjoy spending times in leisure activities. Many factors contribute to them feeling lonely, upset, and sometimes depressed as well. The idea of having an old-age home is to make their living in old age homes very peaceful and content. Senior citizens basically engage in daily routines such as doing morning exercise, watching television, interacting with friends and other people around and so forth. In Nepal, it is customary for the elderly population to depend on their children for physical, moral and financial
However, due to the socio-cultural changes taking place in Nepal and the joint family system gradually losing acceptance, the materialization of institutional
homes is on the rise with steady increase in the number of individuals joining institutions. The elderly taking shelter in old age homes are either voluntary or
forced upon for a number of reasons. Due to this, the elderly may or may not be ready to live in an environment which is either unfamiliar to their own and have to become accustomed to the changing environment and circumstances imposed on them. The other important reason to live in old age home centers is the availability
of physical facilities, sanitary conditions, communication, social network, health conditions, nutritional status and nutritional knowledge that is on offer at these places.
Reason for elderly living in old age homes:
There have been various reasons for the elderly individuals to move to old age homes.
1.) When an elderly individual is not treated well by the family members, such as when he or she experiences any kind of abuse such as physical, verbal or
financial, this makes an elderly individual feel vulnerable and apprehensive, therefore, they decide by themselves or through consultation with others to
move out of the stressful situation that they are experiencing and live a peaceful life in an old age home. Any kind of mistreatment, abuse, exploitation, violent act or financial exploitation at home can become a deciding factor for an elderly to decide to get admitted into an old age home.
2.) Loneliness is considered to be very stressful amongst elderly individuals, especially those who have lost their spouse or family. Their children move
out of the house due to reasons such as education, job, employment opportunities and so on. Elderly individuals like any other age group make
their social circle in order to relieve themselves from the feelings of loneliness. In some cases, they do not interact with their social circle and feel lonesome; this is also one of the reasons that causes them to move to oldage homes so that they have people around to interact with and share their joys and sorrows.
Difficulties and problems faced by elderly people
There has been an increase in population of the elderly in Nepal. The increase in migration from rural to urban areas, has seen a steady increase in the number of old age homes. This has in-turn brought in enactment and implementation of various rules, laws, and policies related to appropriate treatment and care of the elderly group as there have been different kinds of mistreatments and abuses that the elderly individuals have experienced, one of the prime examples being forced to move out of their own homes and get admitted into old age homes. This generally occur when the elderly individuals are suffering from some kinds of health
problems, visual or hearing impairments, sensory or cognitive decline and they are completely dependent upon the others. Since there is no one to take care of them constantly throughout the day, they do not have any other option and transfer to old age homes. In rural areas, socio-economically backward, poverty stricken, and illiterate sections of the society, consider elderly to be a burden and hence they are not properly taken care of and forcibly sent to old age homes. In old age homes, there are in some cases the elderly facing problems and difficulties in spite of having provision of all the facilities. When individuals get admitted into old age homes, the main problem they experience is the feelings of loneliness due to the absence of family members. Because of the social transformation, family and friends no can no longer afford to stay together in one area due to financial, social and political change that the society is currently experiencing. Apart from that, the elderly is unable to take adequate care of themselves and develop a sense of inability to adjust with any kinds of health problems or strength to cope with the loss of family members, relatives or friends. The development of the modern socio-economic system also makes old age a severe social problem. Considerate activities that connect older individuals in accordance to their age group and interests needs to be organized on a regular basis for networking. The elderly suffering from illness needs special services in their old age homes. Disregarding the needs intentionally or unintentional failure to meet the requirements of the older person and violating of the personal rights are the main challenges that could be encountered within the old age homes. Feeling of loneliness, isolation, social economic status of the elderly individuals, transformation in the social roles, adjustment problems in old age and generational gap are some important factors that may cause problems for the elderly individuals. Furthermore, no institution or agency has cared to adopt the “right based” approach in dealing with elderly people & #39;s issues as they have done with other sectors of the population e.g., children, women, Maoist etc. Most old age homes have been limited to nominal “old age allowance”. Main concern of the care providers should be easing their lives in whatever way is possible.
Therefore, whatever the circumstances behind the problem or whoever is responsible for the care of senior citizens, the universally accepted social value is “the society for all ages” i.e., people of all ages have equal right to live a full life. For realization of this, the society has to find the best possible alternative by improving the existing practice and attempt being made so far regarding the issue, which, most probably, could be the situation specific combination of both i.e., family plus the elderly homes.
There have been several reasons why individuals get admitted into old age homes, they either move to old age homes in accordance to their own wishes or they are
forced to move by their family members. The main reasons have been aging, difficulties in carrying out the household chores, mistreatment and exploitation of
the elderly individuals by their family members, and loneliness. In old age homes, there is availability of proper facilities but elderly individuals do face problems and difficulties; the main problems have been regarding adjustment and familiarizing themselves with the environmental conditions and the people around. Elderly individuals may make new friends around but in spite of having good friends, they do not have their family members and feel secluded, due to these elderly
individuals develop the feeling of depression. The main problems have been isolation, loneliness, socio-economic status, generational gap, adjustment problems and transformations within the social roles. There are appropriate norms and rules formulated within the old age homes; the elderly individuals are in need of attention, they require understanding, care and consideration. It is the duty of the family members, caregivers and old age home staff members to make sure that they do not spend the twilight years of their lives in isolation, misery and despondency. Elderly individuals are important and play a vital role within the lives of the individuals, whether they are parents, grandparents, relatives, or friends; they should be respected, adored and one should always seek their blessings and good wishes.