State of senior citizens in India

A recent survey by HelpAge India has revealed the following:

It has been found that 87% of those above 60 had no health insurance and out of the 13% who did, only 2% depended on it to support their health needs, turning instead to children for support and care.

With more than 50% seniors being illiterate across the chosen cities they were unaware of their basic rights and claims. Only 32% ended up availing pensions and support of any kind, contributing to a high percentage (62%) being dependant on remittance from offspring. Also, increasing inflation and poorer health indicators made their need for a support system stronger. 42% in the sample group were found to be in poor health with women needing greater medical intervention and care. As many as 30% were afflicted with chronic hypertension, diabetes and arthritis and 62% of them had chosen not to consult doctors on a consistent basis.

Elders dependent on children in non metros (76%) were better looked after than those living in metros (64%) although Delhi was an exception with 86% being accorded greater care and support and Chennai registering the lowest with only 52.7% being adequately cared for by children.

Ironically, elders in non metros seemed to enjoy better health (40%) than those living in metros (28%). The social community structures that prevailed in smaller cities and towns through large extended families, neighbours and the community provided a more secure safety net, that was found missing in metros. 42% seniors in larger cities expressed fear and anxiety at stepping out of the house alone and since majority were couped up in apartments, living in nuclear families with working children, the feeling of confinement, being trapped and helpless was far more pronounced than for those living in tier II and tier III cities. For many such people, TV has become the best companion.

Something to be seriously pondered over!

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