Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Caring for our elders

In this blog, I will be touching upon a very sensitive topic, i.e. about the care and attention provided to our parents, especially when they reach an age when an enhanced medical attention is required. I feel that most of you will be able to associate yourself with this article in one way or other.

If the elderly parents stay with their grown up children, or are in their close proximity, then they tend to get better medical attention and personal care and supervision. I have known of examples where their grown up children and spouses have put aside their family and social lives and provided whole-heated support - even physical support, to their parents. Hats off to such persons for their selfless devotion.

On the other hand there are those who are not fortunate enough to have their children in the close vicinity, especially when they need them the most. This situation is initially brought about by the financial situation, where the children relocate to other places to earn their bread and butter. It is very rare that when their financial situation improves they come back to join their elderly parents, as most children nowadays prefer to stay separately - the days of joint families are almost over. This by and large results in our parents being left to stay on their own.

I will be addressing this particular issue in today's blog.

We can keep discussing endlessly the merits and the possibilities that whenever the situation demands, the children should return to be near their parents. However, this is one's personal choice and could also depend on their relations within the family and their financial condition. A corner of our heart does, however, yearn to join the parents and give them wholehearted physical and medical attention, but we usually decide to stay put in the cool comfort of the life that we have built for ourselves in our ivory towers.

We commonly hear that our colony resembles a home for the old-aged persons. While the elders have stayed put in their abode, majority of the youngsters have migrated oversees to live their own independent lives. To an extent we are fortunate that our elders had the vision to build this colony. I have generally considered our colony as a fortress, although many of us take its benefits for granted. We all know the incidents that take place all over Mumbai, where several senior citizens have faced attacks from strangers and not-so-strangers inside their houses.

Fortunately, in our case the situation has not reached such proportions that parents are sent to old-age homes, as is the norm in western countries. Although there have been some cases where elderly persons have gone over to old-age homes, hearts of hearts we know that in this regard, the colony has been our saviour so far.

So what shall we do? We cannot ask the children to return back to their parents, neither would the parents be willing to leave their abodes and join the children abroad. Children generally prefer their parents to visit for short durations. Sometimes the children visit their parents when they are not well and need medical attention. However, their one eye is always on the return flight. With the communication channels improving, most of them keep in touch with the elders back home, arrange medical assistance for them and also secure them financially. Arrangements of a maid or a full time nursing attention come as a huge relief. But all this is only a ‘remote' control.

Recently I had an opportunity to discuss arrangements of a personalised medical attention for our elders with a medic. I understand that this arrangement was discussed with the members of Panchayat or perhaps Society some time ago, however, it could not be implemented due to reasons which I am not aware of. I have received positive feelers from several of my friends in Dubai that they would love to have an arrangement whereby their parents are regularly looked after medically.

The proposal being discussed with the medic, is that he and his team will undertake regular check-up of the elders and convey early warning signs, if any, to the children. Whenever any medication is required the same would be prescribed and arranged. If any medical tests are required, these too would be arranged. Hospitalisation would be arranged whenever necessary. The medic's visits can be arranged, either on a regular basis or on per call basis. The arrangement could be finalised for a one-off case or on an annual basis. I will be receiving a detailed proposal in this regard, which I intend forwarding to my friends in Dubai. It could also be shared with Bhagnaris living in other places.

While I don't consider this suggestion as a solution to the problems cited in the earlier paras, I feel it would be quite helpful and ease the situation to some extent. It will not provide our elders an opportunity of enjoying a personal support of the children, but it would at least ensure that they are medically looked after and lead healthy lives.

I would like to invite your thoughts and comments on this subject which I feel is very close to the heart of most Bhagnari families. Through this forum, we hope to generate ideas to help and care for our elders. The next stage would be the implementation of these ideas.


  1. Ramesh how about having a support cell of young volunteers who can fulfill this need and also do odd jobs for the senior citizens??Bangalore has a good network of NRI parents who stand by each other in times of need, we could form a similar group too.

  2. Dear Ramesh ,
    At the outset let me take the liberty of correcting your thought process ,first & foremost it is our parents who look after us & not the other way round as commonly percieved , just try & tell your parent you have a headache & see the reaction , the minute we realise this everything that you do for your parent , looks too miniscule.
    Now coming to your question , yes it is a good idea to have them medically checked up & so on,but i have a suggestion here
    there would be potential donors within our community who could consider donating 2 two bedroom hall flats within the vicinity of the colony if not within the colony itself to be run as a care centre ( on the lines of a old age home , but not literally one ) with a homely ambiance , the major problem as i read it ( i could be wrong ) is loneliness more than anything else , if taken care of can solve a lot of problems , secondly once someone absorbs this idea then we can built around it , to take care of the logistics. Think about it

  3. Hi Ramesh
    I am glad that you are addressing this topic, we all can relate to this, i agree with Pushpa's idea of forming a group and am sure there would be many who would come forward.

  4. Hi Ramesh
    I totally agree with your propasal and would be very happy if materialises soon.When God wants to speak and deal with us he does not avail himself of an angel but of parents.Our parents have done a lot for us and now its our turn to do something for them.

  5. ramesh; you ard doing an excellent job with your views on several matters relating to Bhagnari community. Please keep up the good work. I was excited by the feedback you have received. thanks again.

    Ram Gehani

  6. Hi Ramesh,
    While I appreciate your sentiments regarding medics etc within the colony which incidentally I totally endorse, I was hoping maybe we could look a little further. My mother lives by herself- just a short distance away and I would be so grateful if someone/ or even a group of dedicated volunteers would stop in just for a chat and a cup of tea primarily to make sure she was alright. A group of woman could band togther form a club and take turns dropping in on our seniors. I would be happy to contribute to a fund for such a purpose. I agree with Sunil who writes that lonliness more than anything else is a need that should be forefront.
    I thank you for your time and am extremely grateful to be able to voice my opinion.

    Rupa Khanna

  7. mohini gehani usa22 May 2009 at 22:54

    ramesh, i find that it is difficult to find a hired help for doing small things , such as taking the elderly parent for a walk or buying groceries etc. so is it possible to find group of young boys and girls , and have their names and teleph numbers available to seniors , who can call upon them when needed.
    some one talked about regular medical checkups for the seniors , so they can stay healthy. i find it equally important that , all of us young folks also get their annual physical exams and lab work done , so that we can detect a problem early , before it becomes disabling. i have noticed the following diseases very pertinent to indians and in particular to our bhagnaries, i have seen several young bhagnaries die prematurily, from heart disease, diabeees , kidney disease, stroke, throat cancer and alcohol related problems such as liver failure , throat and stomach cancer and lot of obesity.
    all these disease are preventable , if diagnosed early and treated and kept under controll by very clos monitoring .
    young and old should get yearly check ups and lab tests such as , complete metabolic panel that incluids cholestero level, hemoglobin, hct , fasting and 2 hours post meal glucose, creatinine level to see kidney function, electro cardiogram , prostate exam, breast mammogram, bone density exam for osteoporosis, regular pap smear for cancer of cervix .i hear from many people , that they are afraid of getting the tests done , because they might find something wrong. actually this is the whole idea of doing the tests, so we can correct it on time , before it is too late. love mohini may 24

  8. Checkout the facilities offered for seniors was my fathers dream to make an old peoples home for bhagnaris, hope that it will be fulfilled someday.

  9. Thanks to all those who have taken time to read the article and given their valuable comments. I intend to wait for some more comments, before putting up a comprehensive proposal to ensure that all the aspects are covered.

  10. Dear Ramesh,

    It is good you have taken up this important and sensitive subject with prime focus on medical attention; some comments have

    focussed on other aspects like avaialbility of help, of some group who can periodically call on them to make them feel wanted

    and happy etc. These are no doubt valuable suggestions arising from one's personal experience.

    But having recognised the reality that the Kataria Colony is becoming literally an Old Age Home,the most fundamental need of

    the hour is the Lift facility so that elders can move about easily and medical help can reach them easily. As you all know,

    Throughout the civilised world, provision of such facilities to handicapped and the aged is compulsory in any residential


    Despite this, and despite the fact that most of our community people are sufficiently wealthy to afford necessary

    contribution towards the lift facilty, it is not happening... apparently, for the simple reason that people in lower floors

    do not feel the need for it and do not want to contribute to it. Even the suggestion that a group of young boys and girls

    should help to take elders for a walk or for buying groceries is based on the approach that we need not empower the elders

    to be independent but should only try to help them.

    This "limited" approach is the bane of our Society and if you, with your foresight and missionary zeal, can move the

    Community members to take up this issue, it will be a great benefit. Enough space is available for constructing Lifts and

    minor sacrifices may have to be made by the owners to accommodate them.

    Vinoo Bhagnari

  11. Aanchal Sanjay Alreja24 May 2009 at 12:17

    Thankyou Ramesh, this is a complex issue and I am grateful that you have addressed it. I agree with Sunil, it is indeed loneliness that is the root cause of all their ailments. We need to make their lives purposeful and whole, with high self-esteem. As a community, we can work effectively. We have some brilliant feedback, it is high time that we put our minds together and say, "What can I do to help?"

  12. From := Niranjan Gehani,

    Dear Ramesh,
    DEuring my Presidentship of Shree Bhagnari Panchayat, I had an idea of oening a dispensary in F Building. One of our brother from Dubai was generous enough and had offered to finance the dispensary and medical bills of needy bhagnaris not only of KAtaria Colony but any Bhagnari.
    I donot know why this was opposed and I had to abodon the idea.If you think I will be of any help my whole hearted supprt is there for this project.

  13. Dear Niranjan,

    I will always count on your support. I am just waiting for Raju Doctor's proposal, which I will present to the Bhagnaris in Dubai.

    Your idea about the clinic in the colony is great and must be pursued. Let us gather support for this idea also.

    Thanks and regards,


  14. Dear Ramesh,
    we feel it will be a big relief for the elder people,with ths faclity the problem which elders delay will be taken care

  15. If all of us, living far away or even close-by, made a genuine attempt to take a few minutes out of our hectic lives and make a quick 10-minute call every day to our parents, while it would not completely eliminate their would help cheer up their day a little.

  16. Hi Ramesh,
    Saw your blog only today... great job to get started on this issue. I agree with most of what is said & is being done... but the most touching one I also feelis the the "loneliness" issue. I can see a lot of parents (especially my own Mother) getting full care, love & attention because they live with their family. All said & done whatever we do by helping with financial issues, nothing can make up for the fact that personal attention & care is given if living together with our own near & dear ones. But I also understand that's not always possible, so the second best would be things like others & you have suggested. Young Volunteers Groups to help, perhaps even Old Age Homes for people living on their own near the colony, Medical Help & Clinic.
    And you know you can count on help from several committed bhagnaris...
    Good Cause & Good Efforts! Keep it up!
    Varsha Sapru

  17. I agree with Varsha,that old parents should be kept at home and given all the love and attention which they have earned by taking care of us , educating us,thinking of our well being,settling us,standing with us during our thick and thin.
    Than why when they need us, we drive them to Old Age homes,where they may die more of depression rather than old age?
    I know it requires patience to take care of them,but presently there are so many ways and facilities which can be provided to them.

  18. How many of us have older friends or relatives that we rarely see or talk to just because we feel we won't have anything to say to them or that we have nothing in common. I just don't happen to believe that is true. I have found that most people no matter what age just need the same basic things to enjoy life. They need to feel needed and know they are loved.
    One of the most important things you can do is keep in touch. A phone call can mean everything to someone whose own friends may have passed away or maybe their family lives far away. When you call ask about their family, what they did when they were working, their childhood and about their friends. Don't dwell on their health, they do this too much as it is.
    Most people like to talk about their lives and how things were when they were growing up. Find out what kind of music they liked when they were young and see if you can find a copy of some of their favorite songs. If possible find recordings of the songs and play for them. Learn how to dance to their music and dance with them if they are able.
    You just might find out that you are having as much fun as them and believe me you will learn some things you never knew.

  19. To All Bhagnari's(Kataria Colony)

    Its great to know that there are still People Like all of you Who take care of elders,especially to one wants to open dispensary in the colony, and helping needy Bhagnari's.with Respect to all Bhagnari's


  20. Its gd to knw people care abt Elders . But let me say sm thing u helping those who r needy ? r They
    actually need?

  21. Why you people help Bhagnaris when they are well off. just check before giving or helping those bhagnaris. you must be wondering who is this?Iam same as you are. I have seen people cheating you?
    I cant take this any more. Iam not saying that all Bhagnaris Like that Infact I respect all Bhagnaris from Mahim Kataria Colony and espically
    to those who are in Panchayat

  22. For elderly people do we all understand as to what their requirements are? All they need is that extra TLC which they lack once they get older as not many people want to be around them as the young don't have time and energy to hear them out. They older parents want someone to talk with them, hear them out and be more of a moral support to them. They want someone who can selflessly love them without any expectations. The fear that comes to my mind is when you look around, parents being taken care of by their young grand children only with the hope that they can capitalize on their wealth after their death or may if they could bully them to get their will changed or transferred on their names prior to their death. It's a very good feeling to do something for the old and aging parents but can we trust anyone in this mean world is what my concern is...

  23. deepak rellumal bhagnari28 February 2014 at 12:55

    form a group and assign one person to handle two senior citizens and that concerned person should be acceptable to the concerned senior citizen whom he is going to look after , the person should study the senior citizens health profile and be available to the senior citizen arranging his medecines from a store to be delivered as many senior citzens are not educated and need help and the volunteer should make one call to the senior citizen at least once in two days and once a week personal visit which satisfies an emotional need i have a mother at home who is 82 and i know at this age they need mental and emotional support and love and care and the feeling that they are needed and wanted by us
    i am willing to take up any work regarding senior citzens do let me know if you need me