Problems of Senior Citizens in India
Senior citizens in India have no state sponsored social security system. The central government has delegated the constitutional duty of protection of the old to the state government (under Art. 41) but later dole cut pensions ranging from unspeakable Rs. 30/- to miserable Rs. 100/- per month and almost 90% of the aged remained outside the purview of pension system.
- There are no special windows and handling facility for the aged in government offices, banks, railways and bus stations. No separate queues, no reserved seats. There are travel concessions, but these are mirage. ITDC hotels offer weekend concessions but a miniscule of aged can afford them.
- We still do not have an integrated organized and comprehensive national policy for the aged.
- The number of voluntary agencies concerned with the old are embarrassingly small and none of them except the truly destitute which constitute 20 – 25% of the old. Hardly any of them admit old people above 75 years precisely the age when their need is greatest. The atmosphere in most old age homes is cold and apathetic. Thus they provide merely physical security to the aged and not care is taken of emotional wellbeing of the aged. Often there are severe problems of social adjustment. Unsatisfactory as these homes are, they are also so limited scarce that it is virtually impossible to get admission to them except on very special recommendation. There are even cases of people who have had to solicit foreign embassies recommendations.
The number of Indians above 60 has trebled since 1951 as average ion Gevity has increased from 32 years to 61 years.
However traditional community and family structures that favored the senior citizens have broken down, people have become more individualistic and achievement oriented and a strange kind of Social Darwinism have spread which believes in the survival of the fittest and hence inevitably, indifference and callousness towards the weak.
This society has not learnt how to cope with the reality of aging.
NIMHANS is a study found “The mother in law today feels doubly threatened. The daughter in law is not only financially independent but emotionally too. The ageing women cannot compete against her. Often the father in law depends more on her than his wife which is painful for the old women”.
Steps and Suggestion for Rehabilitation –
- Clear cut comprehensive policy for age which addresses to all aspects of their problems. National Board for Care of Aged – setup for review of policies and programs.
- Periodic researches to asses’ magnitude of various problems of aged and measures for their improvement.
- Increased participation of voluntary agencies and organizations awareness building. Community should be made aware of curative and rehabilitative needs of aged.
- Geriatric words in hospitals and special windows in dispensaries and hospitals should be provided for senior citizens.
- Concessions to the aged for travel inter state and city buses and also for special medical camps for them.
- Courses for geriatric study in medical, so doctors can understand their problems and have deeper knowledge about them.
- More lucrative insurance schemes and employment opportunities.