Like I said in several of my blog posts my Grand mother is my only hero and my idol, I learnt everything from her. At the age of 79 (few years before she died), she was handling a huge house, cows and the garden all by herself. In India where there is literally no social security, she earned her bread by selling milk. Though her life was not easy, she was extremely happy being independent and in control of her life. Back then I was not able understand why she chose a life that was hard on her rather than opting for an easy way out (like being a dependent and moving with her children). I spent most of my school vacations with her, but I never gave a thought about her state of mind or what it would be like to be a senior living a solitary life in a big house all alone. Of late I am understanding what made her to live a life like that.
It is 4 years since she passed away and I moved to the United States. There is no comparison between the quality of life between India and the United States. In India the government officially announced that anyone who earns more than 50 cents a day are not poor (above poverty line) and over 350 million people fall under that category(that is more than the population of the United States). The health care, infrastructure, social security, nutrition and hygiene are all extremely poor when compared to the United States. However the family structure and social fabric is still intact. Despite such poverty senior citizens are relatively free and independent. In my grand mother’s case, everyone in the street in which my she lived, was like a family to her. Whenever she was in need she could call someone for help, and they would readily do it. Such kind of friendships built over a period of time will help senior citizens when they need it. This kind of lifestyle is no where to be seen in the United States (or any western country).
I am now realizing that every senior citizen will long for independence. The choice to do what they want, is the single biggest factor that helps senior citizens to lead a contended life. Money, family support and physical health may be huge constraints for senior citizens to pursue what they want after retirement. However that can be compensated today in the form of online communities for senior citizens. There are senior forums where thousands of seniors participate and communicate with each other. These forums act as a great motivating factor, and brings a positive change in the lives of several senior citizens.
In my opinion the right approach for senior care is to provide them the freedom and options to interact to a community of seniors while staying at home.