Introduction Ageing of an individual is conceived as a perpetual process associated with the passage of time. Various studies on ageing suggest that advances in technology and modernization have resulted in the increase of life expectancy and decline in the birth rates of people. Because of this, the twenty first century may be called as the “Era of Population Ageing”.
This situation has dramatically also given rise to the various issues confronting the elderly, making process of ageing as a challenge before the human society considering its impact on the individuals, community, family and society at large. In general, family is the most vital non-formal social security for the elderly and most emotionally satisfying place to live in their later life. But owing to the modification and change of the family structure from joint family system to nuclear family, at both rural and urban levels, the responsiblty and care for the elderly has reduced. Elders were better adjusted to the joint structure of the extended family in the past, with extended kins taking care and giving support.
But, in present time, due to lack of such caring system, taking care of the elderly has become a serious problem (Bose& Shankardass 2004). Currently factors like urbanisation, education, changing values, better employment opportunities etc. have altered the traditional roles of elderly in the society and in the family. Moreover, one also witness that, many younger person are immigrating to other cities and to countries for better employment, leaving their aged parents behind, resulting in isolation, loneliness and neglect of the elderly.
Hence lack of personal care leads to constant search for new forms of care. A new trend is visible, where elders are increasingly moving into their own age cohorts in old age homes in search of care and needed support. Old Age Homes as an Alternative Form of Care Currently protection and car of elderly is becoming a serious concern. As a result, of the undermined patterns of family care and changing value system, provision for the care of elderly is increasingly being passed to the domain of institutionalised caring. Though the concept of old age home is still new to the Indian society but the roles of such institutions towards elderly is becoming significant (Shankardass 2000).
Among all the services available to elderly, it is the old age homes that are mushrooming more than services like day care centers, foster adult care center, counseling, help line centers, night shelters etc. One finds a boom in emergence of old age homes especially in cities, as an alternative system of caregiver to the old.
Majority of elderly who do not have any security or are widowed or destitute. view these old age homes as their hope of getting security of social and familial environment. There is a large proprtion of economically and physically fit elderly find old age home is as a last resort for emotional, psychological and physical care and support. Citing upon the importance of old age homes, Rani (2001) also argues that in face of lack of primary family care,there are numerous institutions that take care of the old, managed by government, voluntary organisations and Christian missionaries.
She opines that though home for the elderly are not in consonance with our culture and background, nevertheless there are good number of elderly who need them, to provide a wide range of services such as residential care, day care, geriatric care, medical care, recreation etc. Many of such homes are urban based, catering only to small segments of total eldely population. Increasing number of old age homes, in both goverment and private sector have drawn attention to the fact of adequate and appropriate facitlities in these homes. *Doctoral Scholar, Centre for Social Change and Development, Institute for Social and Economic Change.