Friday, January 22, 2021

The elderly should be seen as a blessing, not a burden

By Dr. Satyavan Saurabh

In our country, the elderly are increasing rapidly, but the resources available to them are becoming less. In such a situation, it is our responsibility that instead of keeping them aside, they should be integrated into the lives of communities to take care of their physical and mental care, where they can contribute enough to improve social conditions. It is very important to try to convert the ‘problem’ of the elderly into a ‘solution’.

In the Corona era, the elderly population and health challenges have emerged in the country, scientific investigation of the health, economic and social determinants and consequences of the aging population in India has been the largest comprehensive national survey in the country. It is India’s first and the world’s largest-ever survey that provides a longitudinal database to formulate policies and programs for the elderly population on social, health, and economic well-being. This includes representative sample socioeconomic landscape of the country and states, broad, contextual focus, longitudinal design, data collection, quality control, and use of Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) technology for Geographic Information System (GIS). This will coordinate various national health programs.

Keeping in mind the emerging trends in demographic, socio-economic, and other relevant areas in the country, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is creating a national policy for senior citizens, covering issues such as financial and food security, health care, and nutrition. In developing India, in the future, the population will be healthy and will live longer. Research indicates that 12% of India’s population will be 60 years of age by 2030 and according to the United Nations Population Fund; It is expected to increase to 19.4% by 2050.

There are going to be more women than men in the 60+ age group. Longevity has increased the number of people over the age of 80, accounting for about 11 million people. India will have the largest number by 2050, with around 6 lakh people over 100 years of age. The number of senior citizens increased from 10.38 crore in 2011 to 17.3 crore in 2026 and 30 crores in 2050. In such a situation the need for programs for their welfare increases.

Increased life expectancy, coupled with the nuclearization of families, their day-to-day maintenance, and dependence on others for age-related difficulties; is a difficult challenge for the lives of elderly people. The problem increases for older women due to greater economic dependence. In rural areas, where 70% of the elderly live, economic conditions and poor quality of medical services lead to serious conditions, especially for those above 80 years of age. 5.1 crore elderly population is living below the poverty line and due to increasing crimes against senior citizens, the condition of elderly people is pathetic.

The percentage of senior citizens of India has been increasing at an increasing rate in recent years and this trend is likely to continue. According to the State of World Population 2019 report, six percent of India’s population was 65 years and above. An increase in life expectancy, although desirable, has led to new challenges for the modern world. The problem of the increasing population has become a matter of concern for many countries today. Provisions for pensions and healthcare are budget deficient. With more than 100 million elderly homes and the number expected to triple in number over the next three decades, India will face many challenges.

In the changing environment, single families are keeping the elderly away from the threshold of the home. The children have started liking Pabji rather than the story of grandmother and grandmother, the elderly have longed to talk to their children. They are falling prey to loneliness in any corner of the house. In such a situation, their mental-economic-social problems are increasing. Pension is decreasing in front of inflation. There is a dire need to bring separate schemes for the elderly along with their health care by involving the elderly in Ayushman Yojana. So that elder is seen as a blessing in every house, not a burden.

(Dr. Satyavan Saurabh is a research scholar, poet, independent journalist and columnist. The views expressed are personal opinion of the author. He can be reached at goonjtichaupal@gmail.com)

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