Old and Alone in Bali
Panti Jompo Home for the Elderly, not always wantedShe always wakes up early in the morning, the time when many people are still in bed and dreaming. She wakes up in the dark, and lights a traditional lamp since there is no electricity connection in her room. It cannot be said she lives in a house, it is only a room for her to sleep, and to put the many things that belonged to her late aunt. She lives there alone and she is 64 years old. She has never been married, no husband and children. She has lived with her aunt since she was a little girl. Her parents got divorced and remarried again. After the kind aunty passed away tens years ago, Luh Sujeni, the name of this old woman, spends the days alone. For years, she has swept the road every early morning and got payment for that. She still has to work for some money now, although she is old, she has no one. The payment is enough only for her meals. Living in the city area needs a lot of money, but it is her choice.
Actually, because of her age and based on the condition that she has no one to take care of her and she is forced to work in her old days, she should be registered in Panti Jompo or old folks’ home. Unfortunately, no one of her neighborhood in Banjar Tegal village, Buleleng regency, has an initiative to do that, moreover, this woman herself does not want to be moved to the old folks home, she grew up there and would like to die there too, she said. She is one of many elders who hold on to that principle.
There are many elderly who do not want to be in an old folks home. They think they will be isolated. There are also many elderly that live alone after their children grow up, get married and live with their new family in another place. Instead of staying in old folks home, they choose to stay alone in their house and wait for the visits of their children and grand children once a month or only in Galungan day (the biggest Hindu ceremony) or in temple festival celebrations.
The local government and social organizations in Buleleng pay much attention to the life of the elderly in the regency. The government has established an old folks’ home for the elderly in the regency who do not have family or someone who can take care of them in their old age and they are ready at any time the elderly need help. That old folks home is located in Kaliasem village, Buleleng sub district, and it is named Panti Sosial Tresna Werda Mara Pati Jaya. The local government, through Social welfare Agency of Buleleng regency, gives subsidy every month to this home. The subsidy is used to provide healthy food and drinks, clothes, medicine for them who are sick and need supplement and multivitamin, logistic matters and equipment for the activities of the members of the old folks home in order to make them enjoy staying in that home.
The activities of elders are different from the young people. Mostly, the people who are in their old age act like children and they want other people pay attention to them. In the old folks home, the elders will get attention from the care takers, the other members of the home, government, social organization, and they will be helped to do many things by the care takers. It is not got by Luh Sujeni and many elders who do not want to be the members of the home, who still work in their old day to earn money for their living, and who are stubborn and tightly hold their principle to be born, grow and die in their own place.
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