India is usually said to be one of the youngest nations in the world. But do you know that there is a huge elderly population that exists in the country and is increasing regularly?
Are We Ignoring Our Senior Citizens?
It is not difficult to find a senior citizen begging at a traffic signal or outside a temple. Many are found in a pitiable condition with no other place to go.
According to the HelpAge India 2019 report, ‘Home Care for the Elderly: A Call to Action’, the elderly population will increase manifolds in the coming years. The report predicts that nearly half of them will be from the lower socio-economic sections of society. Out of these, 71% will be from rural India and 50% would be women and widowed.
The report also points out that India has nearly 3 million elderly who are destitute and 93% of the elderly belong to the unorganised sector with no post-retirement benefits.
Many of these elderly have mental disorders, with dementia and depression being the most common in their age group. Some also have anxiety disorders with a few resorting to self-harm. Substance abuse is another problem they go through which is often overlooked or misdiagnosed.
Section 19 of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents’ and Senior Citizens’ Act (MWPSCA), 2007 mandates the State government to establish at least one old age home in each district, with a capacity of accommodating at least 150 senior citizens in need. But the reality is far from the expected numbers.
Dandekar Aji was 68 when her husband passed away. She was uneducated and had depended on her husband. With limited household income, she managed to raise two sons and a daughter. Despite having three children, she had no one to turn to after her husband’s death.
Her daughter, already taking care of her in-laws, couldn’t bear the expenses of Aji. Her younger son and daughter-in-law were not supportive. Left on the mercy of her elder son, Aji was spending her old age days in despair with her daughter-in-law often beating and starving her.
One day she was advised by her doctor to enrol herself in Shraddhanand Mahilashram’s old age home. She is now 90-year-old and has been living in the Shraddhanand Mahilashram for the last 22 years now. She is spending her last days in peace with her needs taken care of. She has developed age-related complications and the old-age home is taking care of her medication.
GiveIndia’s partner NGO Shraddhanand Mahilashram provides shelter to women above 60 years of age. While the old age home offers free stay for abandoned and poor women, it also provides paid services for women who can afford these. Their aim is to provide peace to these women in their last days. Apart from basic facilities including food and a separate bed, the organization also has an active medical staff to take care of the elderly.
These elderly have spent their lifetime working and tending to their families. The least they deserve is peace in their last days. Often abandoned by their children at such an old age or living at the mercy of their children, these senior citizens deserve better.