For three months now,65-year old Indu Radke has been visiting the Nivara Old Age Home,Sadashiv Peth,every day to be admitted there,but without luck. A domestic worker at an upper middle-class household in Magarpatta area,Radke stayed and worked with the family. Things changed when the family moved to another city. Radke visited other old age homes,but there,too,she has faced disappointment. Currently staying with a friend,she does not know when her wait will end.
For many senior citizens like Radke,getting a place at citys old age homes has become a daunting task. In the last five years,the waiting lists at these homes has have just grown longer. The city has close to 50 old age homes,mostly run by private organisations. Nivara Old Age Home,which has a capacity of 129,receives several applications daily,which are turned down due to lack of space.
At Jan Seva Foundation,which can house 150 citizens,the demand has been constantly rising. Dr Vinod Shah, the in charge,says,We have 150 beds,of which 140 are permanently occupied. The remaining are taken within a day or two of vacancy.
In fact,a few old age homes are considering increasing their in capacity. Sudhatai Dhamankar,in charge of the 20-year-old Tapodhan Pratishthan in Warje,plans to build at least 20 more rooms at her old age home. We are looking for funds currently. We have a capacity of 20. I have seen an increase in the number of senior citizens who either come on their own or are sent by their children.
A similar plan is also shaping up at Janeev Old Age Home in Phulgaon,Nagar Road. Sujata Joshi,trustee,Janeev,says,We have a capacity to house 16 people on our one-acre property. We are constructing around the area to cater to them.
Tapodhan and Janeev charge Rs 3,000 and Rs 5,000 per month respectively,but the problem is compounded when one is not able to afford these places.
Prakash Borgaonkar,director,Western Region,HelpAge India,says,If one can afford a house,the problem is not that significant. In fact,residential homes like Paranjape Schemes provide all benefits to senior citizens. The issue is for the underprivileged,as they are dependent on old age homes that charge less or nothing at all. There is also a lacuna in dissemination of information about schemes launched for senior citizens. There is the Sanjay Gandhi Niradhar Yojana and the Indira Gandhi Awas Yojana,but not many are aware of them, says Rajiv Agarwal,in charge of the Pune chapter of HelpAge India.
The Association of Senior Citizens Organisations of Pune (ASCOP) feels the condition of most old age homes in the city is miserable. Ajit Singh Pall,chairman,ASCOP says,We visit the homes regularly and are not happy with the way senior citizens live there.