Do we need home for the elderly

Would you consider leaving your aged parents under the care of an elderly home? Are you ready to leave your work to take care of their needs? Well, opinions were divided when these queries were posed to the people in Oman.
While some were in favour, others felt it was not right to leave parents under the care of such a home. Elderly people’s home (welfare) has been a controversial matter, with many rejecting the idea of welfare, considering it a form of disobedience to parents, while some consider it necessary. Many elderly people are sick and need special care, but nobody is free to take care of them. Hence, they are left under long-term care of hospitals. But are hospitals the right places for their prolonged stay?
A doctor at a hospital said: “Elderly people suffer from economic, social and health problems. The latter manifests in general physical weakness such as weakness of the senses, muscles and bones as diseases.”
The economic problems, he says, are those in which the elderly people, because of their limited sources of income, have had to depend on others for financial support. They face problems on social front too. The children’s preoccupation with work makes them feel neglected by the family members.
Sometimes, they are unable to communicate with friends due to their illness. But the most serious problem facing them is the loss of their spouse. The death of either of them makes surviving members feel lonely and depressed. Some aged people are unable to cope with life under the changed circumstances.
It is unfortunate that many children keep the elderly in “detention” or “house arrest” by keeping them in a room or leaving them in a care home, which psychologically leaves them shattered. The family members might not realise that such treatment contributes to further deterioration of their health, and gradually their death. Such instances, fortunately, are far and few in the Arab and Islamic societies. The establishment of nursing homes, of course, is legitimate, but they are needed only when the elderly people do not have anyone to care of them. On the other hand, it is necessary to provide them with a house or charity that offers shelter and proper care.
Al Maamari, for instance, said he could not believe how a Muslim man can leave parents in an elderly home. Parents who, through love and affection, have raised him and made him what he is. “How could he send them to such a home?” he says.
Laila Salim echoed his views. “I disagree with the idea of sending elderly people to such a home. I would never think of putting my parents in these places. It is my responsibility to take care of them till I die.” Some people, however, felt it was a good idea to have a home that takes care of aged people.
According to Wadha al Salmi, nursing homes are needed because some might really need them. If an elderly person does not have children to look after or if he has a handicapped child, can we leave him alone? Therefore, care homes, Al Salmi felt, were necessary.
As for the aged people who have children, it is a shame on them for leaving parents in such homes, whatever the quality of services and whatever the circumstances.
Meanwhile, in Al Rustaq, South Al Batinah Governorate, the government has decided to build a home for the elderly. But the condition is an aged person can stay only if he has no other option.
Investigations will be conducted to verify whether or not a person really deserves to stay there.

Siham al Saidi