LA Times: Senior Care Facilities On the Rise in India as Traditions Change

Carrying a strong stigma in India where traditionally, families care for older members of society, senior living and care communities are beginning to take rise, the L.A. Times reports. Still far from senior living options in the U.S. and Canada, the demographic shift in India indicates the new trend may be a lasting one

The L.A. Times writes

India, a nation that prides itself on the inclusive embrace of its extended families, is slowly accepting a feature long common in the West: elder-care facilities.

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Social changes find more urban families rejecting traditional arrangements involving grandparents, parents and children under one roof, preferring life without nosy in-laws. Economics is also playing a role as more professionals work abroad or in large Indian cities, too busy to care for aging parents.

But things work both ways, sociologists say. More older people also prefer living with others their age, even enjoying a bit of romance away from the disapproving gaze of grown-up children.

“Life here is easier than living with my family in all respects,” said P.V. Bhaskasan, also a retired teacher. “There’s too much fighting in extended families.”

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As India’s traditional social contract frays, however, seniors are also more subject to neglect, physical and mental abuse and depression. In 2010, 11,100 people older than 60 committed suicide, a 20% increase from 2008.

“In abuse cases, parents don’t want to come out against their own children,” said Anjali Raje, deputy executive director of the International Longevity Center in Pune. “So it’s swept under the rug.”

The idea of senior homes has long carried a stigma in India.

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…But the picture is changing, with the number of India’s people older than 60, now at 96 million, expected to double by 2030. Critics say government planners are so enamored of the “India shining” narrative of its young people that they all but ignore the demographic shift.”

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Written by Elizabeth Ecker