March 3, 2007

NEPAL: Old Age Home has 230 Residents

KATHMANDU, March 2, 2007: Nepal is a landlocked Himalayan country in South Asia bordered by Tibet to the north and India to the south, east and west.

During second half of the twentieth century, life expectancy in Nepal increased dramatically from 27 to 60 years. However, in comparison with other poor countries, few aging breakthroughs can be identified.

The Nepali Constitution enacted in 1990 aims at protecting children, women, disabled and older people in various fields such as Education, Health, and Social Security. In more recent times, the government has enacted the “Senior Citizens Act” to ensure social, economic and human rights of the elderly citizens.

Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world, older people consequently face many difficulties.

By social standards, until recently, the Nepali family traditions and values ensured care for their older members. But now, the nuclear family is replacing the traditional multi-generational family in urban areas, isolating older members.

By economic standards, people over 75 years old in Nepal receive a very small allowance from the government, only Rs.150 per month, that is “nothing but peanuts.” Even the qualified often cannot walk to the district headquarters to claim it since it is too far away.

Just outside of Nepal's capital Kathmandu, and located at Pashupatinath, a holy place for the world's Hindus, is the Social Welfare Centre Briddhashram Elderly's Home.

The Home was founded by Mother Theresa’s Missionaries of Charity and the Nepal Government also sponsors it. The Home hosts destitute Nepali elders, offering shelter, meals and clothes. The total housing capacity is 230 people. Several criteria govern who is chosen. When Westerners visit the Home, they remark about the sparse, basic living conditions that the older people experience there. However, residents consider themselves some of the most fortunate elders in all of Nepal. © Copyright Global Action on Aging

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