Life has its strange twists and turns. Take for instance the fact that I went to get my mother who suffers from dementia to stay with me. She had been with my sister for a year and I thought it was only fair that I take charge now. My sister is now a senior citizen herself and has grapples with health issues of her own. It did not seem far fetched to think that a day would come when she would be forced to send mom to an institution. This was something I could not bear to think of.
It was precisely to avoid this situation I brought her along with me. I was really happy to see the change doing her some good - till the 4th day with me. On that fateful evening I took her for a walk and despite my holding her hand, she tripped and fell, breaking the head of her femur.
What followed was no less than a nightmare. A hemi-arthroplasty (surgical replacement of the ball of the femur) followed. She came out of the ICU disoriented, got a urinary tract infection, blood infection, a fever of 105 degrees Celsius, bed sores, her dementia worsened tremendously and she became totally bed ridden. She needs at least two nurses at a time to turn her over, bathe her, clean her ..... which makes it logistically difficult to keep her at home with professional help. So I have now ended up in a situation which I wanted to avoid in the first place - having to send her to an institution.
Leaving aside the pros and cons of institutionalization, old age homes etc., I was thinking about her situation and that of many others in our country. She has two daughters. My dad was in government service which meant he had access to the central government health scheme. This makes all the difference when a situation like hospitalization arises. What do people like us who have no such facility do? Yes, we do have medical insurance right now. What happens when we eventually stop earning and can't pay our premiums? What happens in the event of long drawn out hospitalizations, even if we pay our premiums? What happens when we have no one to do the running around for us? Can we afford to go to an old age home or to an institution? OK, may be we can find ourselves a place in a retirement home. But can everyone afford that? There are many in this country who live on the brink of existence, lead a hand to mouth existence. What are they to do, where are they to go?
I don't want to sound morbid, but I cannot help think ..... what happens to the billions of people in this country who are in situations worse than us? Do we all commit suicide? We already have farmers committing suicide, unable to pay back their debts, we have students buckling under pressure committing suicide, we have khaps killing young people who decide they want to spend their lives with each other, we have desperate young women who are tortured by husbands and in-laws committing suicide, ...... Is this lack of care in old age and illness going to be one more reason to be added to the list in times to come? Is it time the government decriminalized suicide? Or is it high time they did something for people to encourage them to live?