The Destitute Elderly

The Orphaned Elderly of Kathmandu © Dan Giannopoulos

The Orphaned Elderly of Kathmandu © Dan Giannopoulos

In recent years political upheaval in Nepal has led to the near collapse of health care in rural areas. Unable to deal with the complexities of their relative’s illnesses, families often abandon their elders.

The Briddhashram Home for the Elderly sits on the outskirts of Kathmandu. The home, set up in the late 1980’s, houses approximately 240 elderly residents who have been abandoned by their families or have no suitable guardianship or carer.

Residents suffer from a variety of illnesses associated with old age, paralysis, cancer, blindness and severe mental incapacities. There are presently less than 10 care workers at the facility.

In Nepal, and Asia as a whole, poor understanding of mental illnesses such as dementia and Alzheimers reularly leads to such conditions going undiagnosed and mistreated. As is evidenced at Briddhashram Home.

Although it is seen as a preferable alternative to homelessness the elderly residents are still left in squalid conditions some lay confused and anxious in their own waste covered in flies highly susceptible to all manner of viruses and diseases. Cramped and dank living quarters have lead to severe respiratory illness.

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