Kamala (name changed) tried to kill herself a few months ago.
This 84-year-old homemaker had undergone a surgery for throat cancer and her only surviving son who was an alcoholic, killed himself.
Kamala’s married daughter, owing to other commitments, could not take care.
When Kamala’s niece took her in, she did not know it would be a temporary respite.
“As I was recovering from cancer, it was not easy for anyone to look after me.
I had lost all hopes of living,” she said.
Fifteen days ago, with the help of a lawyer, Kamala moved to an old age home in Shivajinagar.
She cannot afford to pay for stay, so she chose to move to this home run by a charitable trust.
There are many Kamalas who left their families and moved to old age homes as their children were unable to provide them with indispensable primary care.
Some are forced to live in such homes when their sons and daughters want to get rid of them.
When people settle abroad due to marriage or work, many leave their aged parents behind.
This has left many senior citizens with no choice but spend their lives in old age homes.
Changing family structures and attitude of younger generation towards the aged has led to a sharp rise in old age homes in the city over the past three years.
In 2009, Helpage India, an NGO working for the welfare of elderly people, counted 60 homes for aged in Bangalore and now this number has crossed 120.
For Satyanarayana, 80, a retired restaurant manager, Vruddhashrmaa, an old age home in Seshadripuram, has been home for six years now.
“I lost the ability to walk six months ago.
As soon as I retired, since I had no family, I had to stay with my brother and his wife.
But they were old too.
It was not possible for them to take care of me,” said Satyanarayana.
He said he looked out for interaction with people his age, people he can connect with.
This led him move into an old age home
Assistance is Just A Call Away
The Nightingale’s Trust and Helpage India are the only helplines available to senior citizens in the city.
But both are not 24/7 helplines.
Nagaveni, a helpline consultant in the city, said that there around 10 calls coming in every day from the elderly who want to move out of home due to various reasons.
“At times, we have people calling us in the name of relatives or friends who know a certain old person who has to be admitted into a home.
But with the extent of details they give, and sometimes the senior citizens themselves confess that it was their own children who called up and enquired,” she said.
Dr Srikala Bharath of NIMHANS observed that senior citizens need a lot of helplines just to get information on old age homes, only, for intervention when they face negligence and abuse, or just counselling and support.
“They also need guidance on financial issues and legal issues.
Sometimes for basic questions like how to write a will and what to do when they are refused pensions because they are unable to maintain the same signatures,” she said.
“We have just ten helplines for the elderly in the entire country,” she observed
Charges of Old Age Homes
Old age homes in the city are managed by NGOs and self-help groups.
Some are supported by the government and others which are managed independently are either paid or unpaid old age homes.
Paid homes charge anywhere between `3,000 and `75,000 as an initial deposit.
Later, they charge a monthly fee ranging from `750 and `9,000 depending on the facilities.
Over the last three years, the Ashrayadhama Old Age Home in the city, has seen the number of inmates doubling with each year.
Rani, founder of the home told Express, “In 2011, we admitted 5 people and this year, we have already taken 10.
” This Ashram charges an initial deposit of `5000 and a monthly fee of `2,500.
The home has two halls measuring 1,500 square feet each.
Each hall is a dormitory which houses 25 members.
Another example is the Ananda Ashram Senior Citizens Home on Bannerghatta Road.
Both these homes admit only able senior citizens who can take care of themselves.
While such homes provide basic facilities of accommodation with three meals a day with two cups of tea or coffee for a fees of `1,000-3,000 per month where inmates live in dormitories having 25 beds or in groups of three or four, there are homes that provide full time medical care with daily medical checkups and hospital care.
The Faith Foundation Centre is one such home on Bannerghatta Road which charges an initial deposit of `75,000 and a monthly fee of `9,000.
The home takes in senior citizens with chronic illnesses and even those who are bedridden.
Along with the basic facilities, senior citizens here are constantly monitored by nurses.
They have geriatrists on call and these facilities are included in the monthly fee.