We recently celebrated the International Day of Older Persons on October 1. This day is celebrated worldwide to examine the issues faced by the elderly and to promote public awareness on dealing with these issues.
According to a recent survey, India has a population of around 100 million elderly people, a number which may reach 324 million by 2050.
Elderly people act as shadows to members of families, even though their age make them less-physically active. Their valuable life experiences often act as guides in our lives, and this can’t be acquired through any study or through the internet.
Previously, people were habitual and comfortable with living in joint families, where grandchildren and grandparents used to spend time with each other. This was helpful in building a sense of respect for the elders. Children use to understand the importance and value of elders in the family.
Nowadays, the cultures of nuclear families and personal spaces are making people less tolerant towards each other. People are so busy in their own lives these days that they don’t have time to sit with older people to listen about their experiences. Extending gratitude for what they have done for us over the years, caring for them, listening to their views – and above all, spending on their medicines and their needs – all seem to be an extra burden these days.
According to the UN, “While the taboo topic of elder abuse has started to gain visibility across the world, it remains one of the least investigated types of violence in national surveys, and one of the least addressed in national action plans.” Societal shame and family pressure are the main reasons why incidents of violence against the elderly remain unreported. They face multiple incidents of physical, mental and verbal violence often perpetrated by members of their own family.
According to a survey conducted by the Agewell Foundation, 65% of old people are poor with no source of known income and only 35% have savings or investments.
Elderly people in India lead a very different life from the ideal one we see in Bollywood movies. In India, after becoming old, many people often hand over their business(es) and properties to their successors. This makes them less financially-sound or even poor, sometimes. Women (many of them housewives), who outlive their partners, also often face abuse as elderly widows without financial support.
The government does take various initiatives like the Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana pension scheme, medical and travel concessions, and housing facilities. But many elderly people are not aware of these initiatives, because of which they remain deprived. It is now time to spread awareness about these initiatives among them so that they can make maximum use of them.
Ageing is a natural process in the human life-cycle. All of us may reach the stage of senility one day. Let us give respect and love to our elders – and we will surely receive a lot in return, in the form of their blessings.
Featured image used for representative purposes only.