The concept of putting the elderly into “old homes” is a comparatively new discourse in our society. In the past, this was not a common practice in our society, but over the course of time, it is becoming more common. Being a traditional society, the people in Bangladesh have had values and customs that place importance on respecting the elderly. The tradition of children living in the same home as their parents is one of the integral parts of our country’s value system. However, more recently people have begun placing their parents in the old homes due to failure to handle elderly people as per their expectations. Families are breaking their values and rising of nuclear families are now become a common phenomenon. It is being said that traditional societies adopt such a practice because of globalization. In the west, this is not an uncommon practice.
We, the young and working class of our society, claim that we are working to create a better future and society for our next generation. While claiming this, we ignore the people who have created the present; who contributed their entire life for the betterment of their children. We forget about the contribution of the last generation, and the sacrifices they have made for us. What you sow, you will reap. We are setting an example for the next generation by what we do today. And in this way, are we not teaching them to do the same with their ancestors as we did to ours?
As we move through the twenty-first century, one of the most dramatic changes in population is in the increase of the number of elderly people and lack of social support for them. This causes a more stressful life in their old age. If we claim to work for society, then surely the elderly are the most important part of the society we work for. It was because of their experience and support that we were able to establish ourselves in this world.
In the developed countries we want to get rid of our duties and responsibilities by sending them to the homes for the elderly and then visiting once in a month. Let us look back to our past; according to our traditional Bengali culture all our families used to live together. Now, the practice of living together is becoming extinct. People prefer to live individually. Due to our competitive life, living separately is being practiced more. This causes frustration and gives less social support for our elderly. In some cases, this precious section of society are being neglected by their own family, as some families think that they are a burden to our modern and fast-moving lifestyles.
In fact, mostly in city areas, people are becoming more mechanized, busy, and loaded with jobs. But we never think about our parents who have always been with us. We don’t want to spend our valuable time on this happiness.
During my working since 2008 I saw lots of death here with pain and left their memories. Being a documentary photographer I would like to represent the elderly view on our social structure and their expectations from us. Photography has the visual power to educate by allowing us to enter the lives and experiences of these socially neglected people. Through my photography I have tried to show their unseen emotion and pain.
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