We are all shocked, dismayed and horrified at child abuse, and rightly so. What about the abuse that our parents face at the hands of their children?
In the late 1970s, my parents were travelling in Europe. An elderly lady came up to them and asked if they were looking after their elderly. When they said yes, she said that that India should never ape the ‘more civilised’ nations who abandon their elderly and expect them to live on their own
Is it 2016, and I see several elderly patients who live alone, despite having many prosperous family members, including their own children. One such lady who represents them came to me today.
She was sniffling in the cold weather, the hands which had fed and clothed her six children were bare. She had given birth to six children, of whom three had died after 21 years of age. She has 3 living children, several grandchildren and great grandchildren, most of whom stay in the same village as her. She is not given shelter, food , money, clothing or company by any of them, and is left to fend for herself after her husband’s death a decade ago. She is scared as she has pain in her chest and doesn’t know what is wrong with her. She travels in overcrowded buses, alone, if she needs to go for a medical check-up. There is no ray of hope or comfort in her life. She scrapes by with the help of the old age grant given by the government, a measly sum of INR 1,200/- or 17 USD per month.
Abuse of a child is unpardonable and horrific. Surely if a child was treated like her, it would be neglect and abuse. We need society to wake up and understand that the elderly are being abused too. Let’s give it a name… Parent Abuse and classify it as a punishable offence. At a time in life when some comforts are needed, there are none. Have we become the sort of society where we turn our heads to avoid seeing the misfortune and plight of our elders? Do we as children not owe it to our parents to spend time with them and support them when they need us? Another lady had come with a fracture of her arm, broken after being assaulted by her son.
This is like an infectious disease, spreading throughout the world. If we don’t change, the future of mankind is bleak.
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