Stop complaining about old people’s homes, Pakistan

Published: November 20, 2016

As I was trying to read a book, a constant shrilly voice was piercing through my ear. It became hard to concentrate on the book anymore, so my mind started processing the voice. It was a TV show called What’s up Rabi – about an old home.

In the hope of following a new perspective, I started following the show. The show treaded on well walked lines. The narrative sailed as expected: the old citizens are victims. In a platonic world, they should be at their homes right now, relaxing with their family. But, things did not go as planned. They had to leave the comforts of their home and shift to an old home.

The story is tragic and the idea sells well. No matter how many shows they do about it, it never gets old. The emotional value invested is a great catch. Everyone in our society can relate to it and would be on the same page (few rare things we agree on). In order to spice things up, the host kept suggesting ideas to the old citizens while focusing the camera incessantly on them. Some of them were uncomfortable with this unwanted attention and kept averting their face. The narrative was single dimensional and politically correct.

“Okay, aap ki bahu nae chati kay ap wahan rahain?”

(Your daughter-in-law doesn’t want you to live with them?)

Finding convenient villain and delivering some moral rhetoric about contemporary bahus. Of course, with the right music in the background.

Like always there is another side to this story which probably is not sensational enough for the media to sell. What the host didn’t notice or didn’t want us to notice was the clean and comfortable environment. The senior citizens were clearly living in a congenial atmosphere. They had clean clothes and were in good health which showed they were given proper facilities. Old homes are favourite fodder for TV shows. They keep harping upon values and painting an incomplete picture. None of them talks about the changing family fabric of our society.

I have seen many old people being mistreated in their own homes. They are not given proper food, health and companionship. Neglected and sometimes persecuted by their own family within four walls could be exhausting and traumatising for the fragile souls. Some of them have even graver fates. Being vulnerable and pitiable, they become ideal beggars. The video below proves exactly that,

So, won’t it be better for them to find a safe and healthy environment – where they can also find companionship in their surroundings. It should be appreciated and encouraged as a safe abode. In order to get a better perspective, I talked to Sidra Aslam who is running a day-care for senior citizens along with other volunteers. The idea was novel and interesting to me. She described how they came upon this idea by witnessing the loneliness and abandonment of the elderly.

Their institute provides them with a chance to find meaning in life through creative activities and companionship again. She is of the view that in the rapidly changing lifestyle of the contemporary time, the elderly need help to lead a meaningful and active life.

It’s high time that we stop stereotyping good causes and develop a more realistic view.

Fatima Majeed

Fatima Majeed

An avid reader, freelance writer and home-maker.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • MR.X

    No self-respecting person should leave their parents at old home . We cannot repay them, just remember when you were small,unintelligent and helpless who told you how to walk and stuff. But in some cases some children are ungrateful ,thus leading to a demmand of old homes. I hope when you get married you do not persuade your husband(Having no honour) to send them to old homes.Recommend

  • almir

    What better can be expected from a washed up ‘singer’ as her. What qualifications does she possess to even conduct a show dealing with such sensitive matters.
    And yes, old homes are keeping the senior citizens’ dignity intact. They are safe, well-kept and have people of their age to keep company. It isn’t all that sad. I would love to be there for my parents and the parents of my future partner but would I point fingers towards people who choose to provide their elders with care they are not able to provide at home? No. You don’t know the whole story behind so why paint all the same. This sells on tv. That’s why.Recommend

  • farhan

    Now that would be a real honorable and “ghairat Mand” thing to do, no doubtRecommend

  • Parvez

    Excellent topic….and points nicely made. The need for such institutions is undeniable.Recommend

  • Keyboard Soldier

    Stay at home old parents would be bored to death. There should be”senior living housing communities” where all the residents should be 60+. A solution for the rich, I assume.

    It is basically about companionship and keeping oneself busy. Sitting on bed all day is going to kill anyone regardless of the age anyways.Recommend

  • Rasheed

    I’m not saying it’s a wise decision to disband old houses; that would be the dumbest thing anyone’d pull. However throwing off your folks into an old house is no way to treat them. More or less, we live in a traditional society and honoring elders is one excellent aspect of it.
    There’s always a way of working things out. No need to get ensnared of familial pressures if you’re a shrewd bloke.Recommend

  • UzairH

    Children don’t ask to be born. They are not given a choice. Adults CHOOSE to have kids. Which means they are 100% responsible for giving them total love, care, and material and emotional necessities.

    Children don’t owe anything to their parents. To expect otherwise is to be a selfish parent.

    I would never expect anything from my children other than love. I hope I can grow old gracefully without relying on anyone’s support, but if such support is required, I would rather have it from professionals.Recommend