Why are the Indian roads badly maintained?
Father Thomas helps. In the past few years he has used donations to set up five hospices across the state of Tamil Nadu. 750 people are lying there. Several of them die every day. The mentally ill lie in one room, the others in the rooms next to it. Here in the hospice they receive food and medicine. You can wash and rest without being pushed away on a curb. However, there is no palliative care in the hospices. It's too expensive.
Aging in India has many faces. It appears that it is not a dignified last phase of life for wealthy Indians either. The extended extended family, one of the central pillars of Indian society for many decades, in which the young take care of the old and naturally integrate them, they are in the process of breaking up, explains Nathan of the Karl Kübel Foundation in Coimbatore. "We have copied the Western model and are now unable to cope with the consequences," describes the Indian. What he means by that: The children of the growing middle class wanted to live independently. Often they left their parents alone. In a country like India, where there is a lack of social structures, a fatal decision, thinks Nathan.
Eight doctors complete their training to become specialists in geriatrics every year - all over India
In the clinic of the geriatrician Prabha Adhikari, 20 elderly women and men have gathered in a circle of chairs. They all look well-groomed and well-fed. Their children are out of the house for a long time, they say. Many even lived abroad. The seniors come here every day to do yoga, to exchange ideas with one another. They felt better after that, says Kusumo, a 63-year-old lady. What helps them the most: They no longer feel so alone afterwards. Nursing homes are out of the question for them - "people there are unhappy," believes Kusumo.
Prabha Adhikari, who enables the elderly to come together in Mangalore, is a pioneer in the field of age research. Until recently, she held one of six professorships in geriatric medicine at Manipal University in Mangalore, Karnataka state. Geriatrics is taught at only four universities across India. Eight doctors complete training to become specialists in geriatrics each year. Around 100 specialists in internal medicine undergo a year-long geriatric training, explains Adhikari. The Medical Association of India wants every medical school in the country to have a geriatric department. The main problem, says Adhikari: There are not enough teachers to implement your own subject areas. There are no coaches for the coaches.
It is extremely difficult to find caregivers for the elderly - even if the wages are reasonable
The problem of the shortage of skilled workers runs through all areas of care for the elderly in India, there is a lack of staff in old people's homes, in the few hospices such as those of Father Thomas and also in outpatient care. Mohanraj Raj runs a private outpatient care service in Mangalore. He and his team are currently looking after 50 households, people who can definitely afford a carer. "However, it is extremely difficult for us to find staff to care for the elderly at all," says Raj. He has to drive to the extreme limits of Karnataka, to where unemployment is particularly high, in order to even find women who want to look after others. Many refused, says Raj, to wash other people and look after them. He pays his employees a decent wage: 14,000 rupees per month, around 200 euros. In addition, they have health insurance and have one day off a month. In order to ensure that the caregiver also comes into a sensible family - i.e. one in which there is no abuse - he takes a close look at the client beforehand, says Raj. What he means by abuse: Often the families of the caregiver give nothing to eat or let them do a lot of other work beyond the care and treat them badly.
In the Abhaya Sadan, too, only one nurse is responsible for the eight women. Every now and then a doctor comes by. The two dormitories and the lounge are sparsely equipped. Nevertheless, the small house on the outskirts of Coimbatore exudes something friendly. The eight women are still sitting on their plastic chairs in the early evening. Some people find it difficult to walk. To say goodbye, everyone wants to get up again. For a picture they line up bolt upright. You look happy for a moment.
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