I have been doing a lot of research on old people’s home, but that is for a later post. Today this post is about the fact that we do not have the skills to look after a patient for prolonged periods of time.

Remember the gen that died in the 1970s and 1980s died in their RIPE OLD AGE of 75-80. Rarely did people live beyond 80 and even ages like 85 were more an outlier. This guy in his 70s had 3-4-8 children so the job of looking after was shared between the kids. Sure the division was never fair, but hey at least the denominator had more than one entry. All the kids who looked after them were in their 50s or sometimes in their 60th birthday times.

Cut paste to now. People are surely living past their 90s. Their children are in their 70s and the denominator is ONE – uncles and aunts are not the first to stand up and help. The kid who could have own problems like health, money and grown up kids settled abroad is just not able to handle the older generation’s needs and sometimes demands. Looking after means – physical, financial, emotional, etc. and that is surely not easy.

However the younger gen – the care giving gen has some fancy ideas of how they will look after their parents at home. They then compare the so called ‘ideal taking care’ to what is being done in old age homes and coming out with all kinds of demands and theories. Nothing will work. It is almost impossible to care for a parent / parents without knowing for how long they will have to do it. The older people also find it difficult to stay in their children’s house with an indefinite time frame.

What is the solution especially for a person (parent) with a lot of physical / mental illnesses?

Sad, but there are no easy solutions. From age say 75 for the older spouse they need to be in a place where they are promised care even if they are terminally ill. Trying to go to such a place AFTER being hit by an illness is very expensive – and almost completely unwelcome. One such home that I have seen from close quarters and liked the way they are looking the senior citizens is www.faithfoundations.org.

Reasonably priced they have a unique combination of having a foster care /orphanage which makes a healthy give and take for the kids and the senior citizens – I met a 100+ year old – his son died and his daughter in law could not take care of him alone – the grandchild was in US and thus not able to help physically.

The generation which is now in its 50s and 60s has to plan physically, financially, emotionally to spend a few years – maybe upwards of a decade with strangers (loss of spouse is almost a certainty). An aunt of mine has lost both her children and is now emotionally wrecked and physically alive. Luckily she is fit and has enough money to be able to buy decent old age care help.

We need to make newer friends, seek more social groups, get comfortable in a multi lingual, multi caste, multi…..kinda old age home. We need to go to such a home when we are fit and able to take a decision. Our children will physically not be able to help us even as much as we are able to help our parents. So learning to deal with online transactions – while protecting against fraud, developing hobbies, etc. will be a necessity, not an option. FB is a good place to create interest groups – go make a start today.

The earlier that we admit that we do not have the skill sets to look after dependent seniors in the family, the lesser will be the stress for us and for the people whom we are promising ‘care’.

Trying to create a house with support for changing diapers, feeding, brushing teeth, giving a bath, changing clothes, cooking, doctoral visits – is just impossible for the 53 year old executive, the 64 year old widowed daughter in law, the 70 year old diabetic with arthiritis, …..so guys live your life, invest well and use the money for a decent old age with strangers. Sorry make them your friends.

Making friends is optional. Being friendless is painful.

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  1. I have heard that the biggest barrier in moving to such a facility is the inability to cope with the loss of self esteem. My late father used to say: Longevity is not a blessing; it is a curse. I understand him better now!

  2. lakshminarasimman

    sir i was about to write this as feedback in your blog. thank you for timely post

    can you include some interviews experience of people who are in such homes in your book, may be some sample day to day cost etc

  3. Sir,

    True post. I am now 35 years old. But still i am scaring due to longevity. I will surely invest well for physically and financially and i will insist my spouse too.

    Being friendless is painful. — VERY TRUE..

    I will start taking with my best friends again.

  4. Another gem dug out of the mine called Subramoney. Scaring, touching and assuring all at the same time.

  5. Longevity is a curse according to me. While people here wish to live long, I wish no more than 65. I thank god that my father was well taken care by us in his last days though he died quite young (66) but I am sure post his disease he never wanted to live long.

    But you can have positive examples of people doing well in old age
    1. All the politicians including Ram JEthmalani
    2. Warren Buffeett, and Charles Munegar
    and many others

  6. Subra sir ,
    Thanks a lot for such awakening post . This so true that i am seeing this happening all around me ( within my family as well as social surrounding) .
    We must prepare ourself for such long journey where ( may be ) longevity is going to be a curse .

    Grateful to you for your blog . ( I am a silent follower of yours since many years )

  7. As an 8 to 8 working woman – what I feel, we should hire someone who could take care of our parents/ in – laws at home.
    At least we can see whether the care taker is looking after elders well or not.

  8. Well discussion on this topic with my friends mostly ends up on these lines:

    “65 is the best age to get off from earth. anything beyond that going to be painful with or without kids”.

  9. First let me call the people who say that they will die at 65 as amazingly stupid. The Indian average is 72, and none of us have a clue how long we will live. So at 66 what will you do? go to work to earn money? So please, stop being that stupid.

    Sangita – you have not done it, so this grand plan. Imagine having a nurse to brush teeth and feed, give a bath and take him/ her to the toilet. Where will this person stay in Mumbai’s flats? this act alone will cost you about 40,000 a month + medicines+ diaper+ hospital visits – that another 30k. So about 70k a month…+ huge monitoring. Check on facts, make expense lists and tell me what works.

    I have read Atul’s book..waiting for the next edition..

  10. Hi Subra, this current situation is what is at my home. Dad,77 no longer himself since past three years requires two caretakers full time. Mother is 60, suffers from diabetes, bp. My fathers sisters provided the caretakers. Due to family issues, no one is really close and dealing with unreasonable expectations in terms of how much I am expected to contribute from my paycheck every month has created a lot of unrest on the personal front. Which in turn affects the professional front. At a time when professionally you rise or sink in your thirties, I find myself really in a tough spot. Unfortunately, parents were not even the fixed deposit kind and of savers and along with a white elephant of a real estate investment which further eats into any kind of savings. I can relate very well to this post. My father is very blessed to have some very generous well wishers who support him in this phase in of his life. If it were only up to me, I’m afraid the situation would have been far worse.

  11. Hello Sir,
    It sounds quite obvious. The moment of death is least known and anticipating that very moment begins at what age?/when will one fall ill?/How much to be spent for treatment?/who will take care of those ailing?/Is all “old age homes” reliable?…..
    If one sit aside and start worrying, it will be an unending process and one will be caught in the most unruly, most confusing “thought WEB”.
    Let us keep going…

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