Ensuring Socio-Economic Security For India’s Elderly - Eastern Mirror
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Editorial

Ensuring Socio-Economic Security for India’s Elderly

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By The Editorial Team Updated: Mar 10, 2024 10:47 pm

The Niti Aayog has advised the government to prepare a roadmap for the welfare of the elderly population in the country as the percentage of senior citizens will increase to 20 per cent from the present 8.6 per cent by 2050. It’s a pity that despite having policies for various sections of society, the country is yet to prepare a policy to ensure a dignified life for India’s elderly. It should be noted that only 22 per cent of the elderly population in India enjoys pension facilities, while 78 per cent do not get any notable financial assistance and have to depend on their own pockets for survival. Furthermore, only 18 per cent among them is covered by medical insurance schemes and the rest do not have enough funds to avail quality healthcare. Moreover, 75 per cent of elderly people suffer from chronic diseases. As the current percentage of elderly people in the country is limited, the problem may not seem critical to many. But if we are truly interested in building a healthy and happy India, we should not ignore the problem anymore. Instead, we need to utilise the time to prepare ourselves to prevent the present demographic dividend from being lost.

The problem has further been compounded with the concept of nuclear families gaining ground in society. In the past there were many joint-families where the elderly were well cared for. In modern times, people seem to be happy with small families which have made the elderly more vulnerable as they do not get required support from their respective families. As a result, one among three elderly persons suffers from depression in India. This is why old age homes have now started mushrooming all over the country, as many elderly people prefer to live in these homes, instead of living alone. But as most of these homes are privately owned, reports suggest that business interests get priority over the well-being of elderly residents. The elderly are living in these homes not by design but due to unavoidable circumstances. In the wake of such allegations, the government should formulate rules for setting up old age homes and ensure that inhabitants of these homes are treated well.

In our pursuit to offer quality lifestyle to elders, a strong and all-encompassing socio-economic security net should be weaved, keeping specific needs of the elderly in mind. This is necessary as a general policy will not be helpful for them. For example, generating more employment avenues will only help job-seeking youth and not the elderly. Similarly, normal healthcare plans will not offer much as costly geriatric care is still not easily available in the country. Thus, there is urgent need for a package to address the financial, medical and social needs of India’s aging population.

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By The Editorial Team Updated: Mar 10, 2024 10:47:09 pm
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