Why the post-pandemic retiree is choosing freedom over family
The COVID-19 pandemic was one of the toughest tests we have faced as a collective but the most severely impacted were senior citizens. As the most vulnerable segment of the population, they lived under virtual curfew for months, some even for years. All their daily activities such as buying their daily requirements of food and medicines, meeting relatives and friends living, not socialize, or visiting places of worship, etc. were brought to a halt and every day was filled with uncertainty, despondency and isolation. They remained cooped up in their surroundings and suffered both mentally and physically. Even before the pandemic, several surveys and reports about the living conditions of senior citizens had revealed an increasing prevalence of abuse at the hands of their own family members, especially their own children. The stressful situation of being confined with the same families 24X7 with no respite, increasing financial pressures and lack of emotional support, led to a rise in physical, emotional and verbal elder abuse. The only way out seemed to be to break the shackles and move out of the status quo.
In this connection, the ‘new crop of retiring persons’, i.e. those who achieved seniority recently and retired have been active in bucking the trend and taking lead to seek independence from the old system of living with their children as dependents. What has helped them to take this initiative was some sound financial decisions during their employment years, which has led to a level of financial stability, independence and security. Some of these retirees received handsome handouts at the time of retirement like pension funds, gratuity, encashment of accumulated leave, travel expenses, medical benefits, etc. Others have benefited from investments in Insurance, Mutual Funds and other stocks and shares options, which have empowered them to be able to take their own life decisions.
This group of empowered retirees is now choosing to escape from ‘suppressed’ living and seek out the many options of independent senior citizens’ housing, whether through rent or purchase, depending on their requirements. An increasing number of senior living centres have sprung up in both Metro and Satellite towns, which give very clear options at varying costs for the senior citizens to suit their pockets. These establishments have all the facilities like cooking, washing, housekeeping, medical and nursing help, security, entertainment, indoor and outdoor games, transport, travel – all ‘inhouse’ so that there are no hassles of any kind and everything is taken care of. Thus, they can seek to live as per their wishes, maintaining their own standards, free of interference and avoiding bickering with their family members to truly be able to live ‘happily ever after’.
While it is good that senior citizens with means of their own are able to make the difficult decision to choose independence over life with their family it is surely a cause for alarm as well. The disintegration of the family structure is bound to eventually lead to the disintegration of society as a whole. The pandemic has been a wake-up call to us in many ways where we have all had a chance to reassess our priorities and fix broken systems. It may be a good idea for us to pay attention now to the fissures within our own homes that may need fixing.
This article has been written by Mr. K. D. Bhatia, 84,
member of Senior Citizens Society, Neb Sarai, New