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Posted at: Nov 27, 2017, 1:14 AM; last updated: Nov 27, 2017, 1:14 AM (IST)

Glitter of twilight

Rajeev Jayaswal

The posh colony of Ludhiana was in a state of shock. Nobody could imagine that jovial Dharam Pal (name changed) had a death wish. In an attempt to end his lonely life, the millionaire octogenarian had gulped more than a dozen sleeping pills in the wee hours. Timely medical help had saved his life. His suffering, however, continued because he refused to stay in the suburb old-age home. His reason - nobody would marry the daughters of his brothers if they got to know that their uncle lived in an old-age home. 

Indeed, some social stigma is still attached to the old-age home. Conventionally, it is equated with typically charitable ‘vrudhashram’ of yesteryear, which wasmeant only for the destitute. But, that stereotype image is fast changing.

Now, the western concept of living in a retirement home is quite acceptable. It is catching the fancy of people in Punjab, where the younger generation prefers to settle abroad. Old people, neglected by their children, are no longer condemned to live an isolated life. They put their properties in reverse mortgage and live in the company of senior citizens in high-class old-age homes, most of them are affordable. One such spot is Heavenly Palace, a sprawling 14-acre campus in Ludhiana.

“They live life to the fullest. Two things haunt old people - security and loneliness. They get a fresh lease of life here. While attendents take care of all their daily requirements, they have plenty of time to do what they always wished to do,” says Anil K Monga, chairman of the trust that runs Heavenly Palace. Monga, originally from Ludhiana, is a successful businessman in the US. He expects that the project would be self-sustaining once the number of residents increased to about 500. Currently, the campus is home for over 140 senior citizens.


Income Security

Senior citizens are facing three main issues. The first two concerns —loneliness and security— are resolved to a great extent at an old age home. But, the third one is the real challenge. How to ensure regular income to them? There is no effective and adequate social security system for senior citizens in India in general and Punjab in particular. Paucity of funds is the major hassle in launching insurance and pension schemes for the elderly. The government could levy a two per cent fee (cess) on farm produce entering the mandis for them in a social security fund. The government should also deposit a matching amount in the fund, as has been the case in the employees’ provident fund.   

Prof SS Johl, noted economist 

(as told to Rajeev Jayaswal)


Reverse Mortgage

Many old people own properties, but they do not have a regular cash flow. They can opt for reverse mortgage loans. It is an arrangement with a financial institution where an old couple relinquishes its ownership over the property for a regular income till the time of their death. The loan amount is dependent on the value of the property, age of the borrower(s) and interest rate.

Benefits

  • Regular income 
  • Remain owner/occupant of the house 
  • Not to pay EMIs/principal in remaining life
  • Their heirs have the option of prepaying the loan
 

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