Old age homes inaccessible for the indigent

Bangalore BBMP City Covid-19 Health Pandemic Top Story

Many inmates of government-run old age homes were sent back due to the pandemic because of the home’s inability to look after them.

Indigent senior citizens in the Bengaluru Urban Zone are unable to access old age homes. Private old age homes either demand a hefty amount of money or only admit the medically fit people. Bengaluru Urban Zone has two old age homes funded by the government but they are not necessarily meant for indigent senior citizens.

“As of now we don’t have any old age home which only accommodates specially-abled and indigent senior citizens,” said S. Amarnath, Coordinator for information and counseling of Department for Empowerment of the Differently Abled and Senior Citizens. “During the pandemic, we had to send many people back because we were unable to retain them. We only fund the two organizations, they take the decisions on their own,” he added.

“Indigent senior citizens are forced to live on the streets or are dependent on night shelter homes,” said Pushpa, caretaker of Surabhi Night Shelter homes.

John Joseph, who has been living in Surabhi Night Shelter said, “I am diabetic and my son used to abuse me. I left my home two months ago. Now, I am dependent on night shelter homes.”

Mohan from Yelankaha has been homeless for more than six years. His family abandoned him after a stroke left him handicapped. “I have nowhere to go to,” he said.

“I lost my mother to Covid, I can’t afford to keep my father in a private old age home. I have no option but to keep my father at a relative’s house as he is diabetic,” said Kameshwar. S, who works in a construction company in Mumbai.

The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007, states that it is mandatory to build at least one old age home in each district which accommodates at least 150 indigent senior citizens.

On June 1, 2021, the Karnataka High Court remarked that the state government has failed to set up old age homes for indigent senior citizens in the districts of Karnataka. The government has failed to implement the provisions of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Citizens Act.

Alan Godfrey, Head and Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, St. Joseph’s College, Bengaluru said, “There is lack of coordination between the organizations and the government, which may have led to the situation. Given the situation of the pandemic the challenges have increased.” He added, “There are a few old age homes in the city who don’t admit people from below the poverty line.”