The dream of the people all over the world to live long lives is now becoming a reality due to the socio-economic development of people and advancement in sciences, particularly medical sciences. In India about 7.5% of the population is above 60 years and the life expectancy is increasing gradually. Old age was never a problem in India. Old age homes were alien in concept and elder abuse was considered a Western problem. Not any more. As life expectancy has increased from 41 years in 1951 to 64 years today, hundreds of old age homes have sprung up in India. Neglect of parents has become a big issue, so much so that the Indian government has passed "The maintenance and welfare of parents and senior citizens bill 2006", which makes it imperative for adult children to look after their parents.
As of 1998, there were 728 Old Age Homes in India. Detailed information about 547 of these is available. Out of these, 325 homes are free of cost while 95 old age homes are on pay & stay basis, 116 homes have both free as well as pay & stay facilities and 11 homes have no information. A total of 278 old age homes all over the country are available for the sick and 101 homes are exclusively for women. Kerala has 124 old age homes which is the maximum in any state.2
Healthy ageing is not only related to the advances in medical technology but also to a wide range of other factors like enabling the aged to lead a stimulating life, being fully involved in society and having meaningful social relationships.
Today's "post-retirement complexes" have a whole range of built-in facilities like 24 hour medical service, a book-shop, bank and post office facilities etc. Some of the high-end complexes also offer open theatres, trips to places of common interest etc for their inmates. But these are only for the elite section of the aged who have the resources to enjoy such facilities. As the role of families as a social safety net for the elderly is fast...