This article in the Bhutan Observer asks: Are they in keeping with the GNH philosophy? Elders say they are an unfortunate necessity:
“Lyonchhen said initiatives are being taken by various parties to cater to the needs of the aged people who are abandoned by their families in the GNH country because of rural-urban migration.
Old people in the country, Lyonchhen said, are abandoned ‘not in a very big way, but the trend is beginning to emerge; the number is enough for us to worry.’
Lyonchhen added that the solution must be one whereby, as in the past, the aged will continue to be the object of reverence and respect within the family. He said the government will make it worthwhile, not only socially and emotionally, but even financially for families to look after their aged folks.
Meanwhile, there are plans to establish another old age home in Bidung in Trashigang. Speaker Jigme Tshultrim said the new home will take in old people from all parts of Bhutan. He said, “This has become a necessity in view of GNH.”
One of the mandates of the recently registered civil society organisation called Royal Society for Senior Citizens (RSSC) is opening old age homes. Pema Tenzin, the vice president of the organisation, said old age homes are necessary for people without siblings and family members.
Opposition Leader Tshering Tobgay said that, if old age homes give the senior citizens a sense of dignity and security in their final years, he fully supports the idea. But he asked why old age homes are needed in the first place. He asked, “Why don’t our senior citizens have homes? Are our communities failing? Are we abandoning our parents? If so, why? Is it urbanization? Or are our values declining?””