July 4, 2011

INDONESIA: Elderly find comfort in nursing home

JAKARTA, Indonesia / The Jakarta Post / July 2, 2011

By Elly Burhaini Faizal, The Jakarta Post

Umi Solechah, a 65-year-old widow, says she did not think her senior years would be spent in a nursing home.

“Life is just a mystery. You don’t know where it will lead you,” Umi told The Jakarta Post during a recent visit to Budi Mulia 4 nursing home in Radio Dalam, South Jakarta.

Umi, who worked with the Indonesian Embassy in Washington DC, the United States, for ten years, recalled serving Indonesian diplomats including former ambassadors Soesilo Soedarman and Arifin Siregar.

Her life changed when she had to return in 1998 to treat her sick mother.

“I spent nearly all my riches treating my mom before she died,” said Umi who worked in the US from 1989 to 1997.

Her husband then passed away.

Umi did not elaborate on why she went to a nursing home aside from saying, “I was abandoned by my brothers and sisters despite my contributions to them.”

Lukman Syam, 68, was a marathon athlete. He won a silver medal at the national sports competition in 1967 before running a furniture business.

He said a family conflict ruined his business and his marriage.

Lukman said after he was abandoned by his family, including his own children, he became homeless before local people found him at a mosque in Pesanggrahan, South Jakarta.

They reported him to the local district official who sent him to Jakarta’s Social Affairs Department. Lukman was then sent by the department to Budi Mulia 4.

“I’m happy to live here since I have many friends. I don’t feel lonely anymore,” said Lukman.

In an article titled “Facing the geriatric wave in Indonesia: Financial conditions and social support”, a group of researchers from the University of Indonesia mentioned a survey by the National Commission for the Elderly that stated only 3.91 percent of Indonesia’s elderly in 2006 could rely on their monthly pension fund.

It said this drove about 50 percent of female elderly to rely on their children and children-in-laws while 29 percent of elderly men are also classified in this category. Photo: WN/Trigedia

Those with family can live with them while the remainder go to nursing homes.

Farah Darojati, who heads Budi Mulia 4’s nursing department, said that in many cases the elderly were abandoned by their children or other family members due to low income; therefore, many of them begged.

Farah said treating depression in the elderly who live in nursing homes can be difficult due to the fact that about 90 percent of the elderly had low-income backgrounds, including beggars and homeless people.

“Most elderly people who used to live on the streets suffer from stress and depression because of malnutrition and sickness,” Farah added.

She said many had illnesses caused by unhealthy living conditions, such as tuberculosis, hypertension and scabies.

“They must be treated before they can interact with healthy residents,” said Farah.

Elderly people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease are also isolated, she said.

Budi Mulia 4 is one of five nursing homes provided by the Jakarta administration for the elderly who are homeless or those abandoned by their families.  Four homes are provided for the elderly who are healthy and can perform daily activities independently, while Husada Mulia 5 at Cengkareng has been designed for the sick.

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