Now we are living in a world with developed science and technology. Society has undergone a number of changes owing to the advancement of technology. A significant effect of technological developments is felt on institutions like family and religion. It is generally in the economic field that the effect is felt more.
A family is generally defined as an association of a man and woman with or without children, when their association is a legal one. Joint family system is one of the important forms of the family. When different generations of the same family live together it is known as joint family. Here all the members live together, the affairs of the family being in the hands of one member, generally the oldest. Even today there are a number of places where the joint family system exists. But with the increase in technology and science there begins a split in this system. Joint families are replaced by single unit families. The reasons for this are obvious.
A member of a joint family may have to go to a long distance to be in time for his work. To avoid the waste of time, money and energy he may prefer to live near the work spot and so may set up a separate household. This divides the family. Again, during these days women also come out to seek employment, because there is a realisation that with spiraling costs it would not be possible to run a family with only the earnings of one member. So when women also get employed and when both the husband and the wife begin to earn, there is an improvement in the family income. But the same advantage is also combined with a shortcoming. The older members of the family have to fend for themselves, since the assistance of the young members is not available, even if the parents live with the children. But if the sons or daughters live away from their parents who live alone they feel helpless in their old age.
In some families parents also live with their married sons or daughters. In such cases there may be clashes of temperaments and differences of opinion. The younger generation may feel that parents are a hindrance and obstacles in the way of their happy life. They, therefore, develop a tendency to ignore or neglect their parents. In such circumstances the old people feel the intensity of their loneliness and unhappiness. They feel that they are unwanted and suffer great humiliation thereby.
In addition to such old parents neglected by their children, there are others who, in their old age, suffer the pangs of poverty and penury because they do not have any one to look after them. They might have lost their children and may be at the mercy of other people on whom they rely for their support. The condition of these people would be miserable, without money, without people and without friends.
The life of old people is so miserable that they yearn for company and help. It is such cases they should be pitied. Today, society has come forward to assist them. The government has formulated a number of schemes to help the helpless old people. Old age pensions are given to all people who pass a certain age and who are destitute. Here also some unscrupulous people take advantage of the old people’s condition. In some families, the sons make their parents apply for these pensions and then taking away that money make the parents suffer. But such cases are not many.
Governments and some private charitable institutions also conduct homes for the old and helpless. Helpage Homes are meant to offer protection of the old and helpless. At these places, old people are not merely taken care of, but also are offered means of recreation. In some of the institutions, the inmates are induced to take up some occupation or other according to their aptitude and ability. They are encouraged to perform some work or other and in some places they are even paid small sums for the work done. This helps them spend their time happily and profitably.
The care of the aged has now become the responsibility of the Government and the Society. Yet, there are many old people who are ignorant of the existence of such places, or they do not have anyone to help them to get into such institutions. It is, therefore necessary that more people, especially wealthy people and social service Organisations should come forward to take care of the old and aged. The aged deserve such help. While young and active they would have done their best in their own way to serve the society of which they were parts. But since they are neglected in their old age, something should be acknowledged and in their helpless state they should be given the consolation and peace that would make them reasonably happy.