No room for the elderly: Long wait-list at Ferrargunj Old Age Home

Report by: 
ROOPA LALL
Port Blair
6 Jul 2017

Figures are alarming! Out of 10 elderly couples in India, more than 6 are forced by their children to leave their homes. In a country with estimated 87.6 million people aged above 60, more and more people entering the ‘senior citizen’ category have no place to go, lose all hopes and eventually have to resort to old age homes. In India, unlike USA, parents do not leave their children on their own after they turn 18. But the opposite trend in a country like ours, that claims to value the institution of family, in reality, expresses disdain for the bonds of blood. While top corporate houses in the country are slowly warming up to the idea of residential communities for senior citizens investing crores of rupees, it’s the government run old age homes that remain the only hope for the abandoned. In Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the number of old aged people dumped by their families is also on the rise, but the Social Welfare Department run Old Age Home at Ferrargunj is presently packed to capacity.
After EOI published the report of an 88 year old man discarded by his family, this Correspondent set out looking for comfortable place for Paresh Chander Bepari for the rest of his life and found the Old Age Home at Ferrargunj as the only option. It’s then when this Correspondent realized that the Home with a capacity of 25 is currently looking after 28 elderly citizens shattering her hopes for poor Bepari. “The numbers of senior citizens abandoned by their families is increasing in these islands following which the GB Pant Hospital has stopped admitting patients without attenders. In the past, many cases have been noticed where family members get their old aged parents admitted in the hospital never to return back. Hospitals are meant for treatment of the needy and we can’t retain patients after their recovery. The administration should look into the issue seriously and increase the capacity of the Ferrargunj Old Age Home. Besides, the Social Welfare Department should considering open more such homes for the old in the city or elsewhere in South Andaman region,” said a staff of GB Pant Hospital, who didn’t want his name to be quoted.
The Echo of India last month reported about Paresh Chander Bepari, who was found lying unconscious and naked in the premises of the State Transport Bus Terminus by a newspaper boy and got him admitted in the GB Pant Hospital. The 88 year old man is a resident of Khudirampur, Diglipur having two daughters and a son, all of whom dumped their guardian in his twilight. After continuous treatment, Bepari is no on course for complete recovery. After the hospital authorities discharge him, the 88 year old will again be on the roads facing neglect unless the Social Welfare Department or NGOs operating in these islands come forward to his help.