Rich and lonely or poor and hungry, the plight of the elderly in our country is far from satisfactory. Be it the medical necessities or the psychological needs, the legal bodies have seemed to ignore many of the geriatric issues.
Currently we have over 8 million senior citizens in the country, a figure which is expected to increase by 326% for those over 60s and by 700% for those over 80s till 2050, as estimated by the Giri report on National Policy on Senior Citizens (2011), which means that in the coming 4 decades we will have around 350 million senior citizens in India. This appalling figure is enough to jolt the authorities to take some serious actions towards moulding the legal structure to their benefit.
Now let us analyze WHY the elderly section demands special care and attention from the society:
- Deteriorating health: Its a proven fact that after a certain age, the human body encounters a lot of health complications; bones getting porous, weakening of muscles, blood pressure, sugar are most common in old age. According to a study, India is swiftly steering its way to becoming the diabetic capital of the world. Our hospitals still need to be equipped with a special geriatric ward and the medical studies need to update their syllabi to new geriatric medicines.
- Emotional distress: loneliness and rejection naturally come along with aging, which is one of the foremost causes of failing health as well. According to a survey conducted by AZ research in 12 major cities of India, 80% of the seniors seek tosustain the lifetsyle they once enjoyed in their working phase, while 75% of them want to go out, socialize, play, exercise, party and shop for luxuries.
- Financial trough: For over 70% of the senior citizen population falling under the poverty line, the government announces mere Rs 1000 per month as pension. Needless to say the authorities of our nation are much apathetic to the situation of elderly than many of its poorer counterparts, which are generous enough to dole out more funds on the healthcare and welfare of its older lot.
- Security: The findings of the AZ research survey also reveal that 3 out of 10 senior citizens stay alone and most of them suffer from anxiety and aloofness from their neighbors and relatives. And while 80% of them fear about their ‘at-home’ security, 70% of them are ready to move to a peaceful town or city offering holistic care that includes instant medical facilities, better security, community bonding and as like.
So these are some of the appealing realities that go uncounted in our society. An interesting point to note here is that, apart from legal changes, what our country desperately needs is a strong culture for senior citizens communities and centers to get them on one platform that offers all the facilities like medical aids, security, recreational clubs that ultimately make them feel better about themselves. This however sounds like an alien in our country but would work miles in improving the plight of the senior citizens by removing the tags of dependent, unwanted from their shoulders and making them feel their worth in the society.