This qualitative research examines the varied reasons for relocation to old age homes (OAHs) in contemporary India. The purpose of this study investigates the acceptance of institutional living in Lucknow (a Tier II city of India) and whether migration to OAHs is a voluntary decision. This study also examines the lifeworld of the older adult in these OAHs in an attempt to find out whether OAHs are conducive to positive ageing. Derivatively, the authors study their engagement/time use pattern and social networking patterns in the OAHs. Finally, the research seeks to learn whether OAHs are slowly substituting older adult care given within the family by offering the best of the facilities and services.
This qualitative research was conducted in two private OAHs in Lucknow, India. The findings of the study are based on 28 qualitative interviews conducted with the inmates, administrative staff and caretakers. The interviews were unstructured and open-ended and were supported by observations. The observation was not only made of the social setting but also the reaction of the participants. The idea was to develop an emic view of the subject by exploring valid narratives. Pseudonyms were used to report the finding so as to maintain the confidentiality of the research subjects.
This research moves beyond the traditional wisdom that people move to OAH because of the push factors within the family. OAHs in India have evolved over the years and high-end OAHs are equipped with modern amenities to cater to the upper class in their twilight years. Residents were found to lead active lives in OAHs and their common habitus and bonding capital helped them to face the vagaries of old age more confidently. Their active life and membership in various civic organizations challenge the contention of the role theory that the aged are more prone to lose rather than gain roles.
The originality of the research lies in the fact that the authors are extending the arguments made by the role theory of social ageing. The theory proposes that aged people are more likely to lose out roles rather than gain new ones. This study finds that the elderly tend to live a very active life in OAHs and engaged various civic organizations. Although they may lose/voluntarily give up the roles like the head of the household, spouse, etc., they acquire new roles in the context of OAHs.
The first author would like to express his gratitude to the University Grants Commission for awarding him with a Senior Research Fellowship, which facilitated the author to conduct this research without any financial constraints. Review board clearance was taken from the Departmental Post Graduate Committee of Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology (RGIPT), Amethi, India.
The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.
Gupta, S.K. and Mukherjee, A. (2023), "Positive ageing in institutional homes: towards a de-stigmatization process", Working with Older People, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/WWOP-04-2022-0015
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