Problems of elderly population in India

  • Lack of Income & Poor financial status:
    • Lower income or poverty has been found to be associated with elder abuse. Low economic resources have been conceptualized as a contextual or situational stressor contributing to elder abuse.
    • Due to steadily falling interest rates on bank deposits steadily most middle class elderly actually depend on elderly pension to sustain themselves.
    • In India, 74 pc of the elderly men and 41 pc of the elderly women receive some personal income whereas 43 pc of the ageing population earn nothing at all. 22 pc of those ageing Indians getting a personal income receive less than INR 12,000 per annum – PFRDA report on Financial Security of India’s elderly, April 2017.
  • Rise in the Health care costs:
    • As older people stop working and their health care needs increase, governments could be overwhelmed by unprecedented costs.
    • While there may be cause for optimism about population aging in some countries, the Pew survey reveals that residents of countries such as Japan, Italy, and Russia are the least confident about achieving an adequate standard of living in old age.
  • Rise in age-related chronic illness:
    • One in five elderly persons in India has mental health issues. Around 75 per cent of them suffer from a chronic disease. And 40 per cent have some or other disability. These are the findings of the Longitudinal Ageing Study of India (LASI) in 2021.
    • Older people suffer from both degenerative and communicable diseases due to the ageing of the body’s immune system.
    • The leading causes of morbidity are infections, while visual impairment, difficulty in walking, chewing, hearing, osteoporosis, arthritis and incontinence are other common health-related problems.
  • Increasing need for geriatric care:
    • The number of sick and frail elderly needing affordable nursing homes or assisted living centers will likely increase.
    • Absence of geriatric care facilities at hospitals in rural area.
  • Urban areas, Changing social systems and Elderly:
    • With adults in formal jobs and children occupied by school activities no one is left at house to take care of elderly people. The bonds among neighbours are not as strong as in rural areas.
    • Financial constraints don’t allow them to pursue creativities.
    • Neglect from family members force many to prefer day care centres and old age homes than staying with children. 
  • Abuse of the elderly population:
    • Abuse of the elderly is a growing international problem with several manifestations in different countries and cultures. It is a fundamental violation of human rights and leads to several health and emotional problems.
    • The abuse can be classified as physical, sexual, psychological or financial.
    • The ill-treatment is relatively more frequent among elderly women and those living in rural areas, according to the report.
  • Isolation and loneliness among the elderly is rising:
    • Nearly half the elderly felt sad and neglected, 36 per cent felt they were a burden to the family.
    • The emotional harm that may emerge from verbal or emotional abuse encompasses torture, sorrow, fear, perverse emotional discomfort, loss of personal pride or sovereignty.
  • Declining moral value system:
    • At the socio-cultural level, a representation of an older person as weak and dependent, lack of funds to pay for care, elderly people who need assistance but live alone, and destruction of bonds between the generations of a family are possible factors in elder abuse.
  • Caste and Elderly:
    • Due to financial issues: The lower caste elderly due to financial issues have to keep on working for livelihood even at old age. Although difficult but it keeps them active, maintains sense of self-worth and garners respect from family.
    • While for the upper caste elderlies, good jobs become less available and they hesitate to take menial jobs.
    • It renders them jobless so a feeling of ‘worthlessness’ and frustration arises.
  • Housing:
    • Lack of space:
      • Living with a large number of household members other than a spouse is associated with an increased risk of abuse, especially financial abuse.
    • Unsuitable accommodation:
      • The housing available to a majority of the senior citizens may be found inappropriate and unsuitable to their requirement.
  • Elderly Women Issues:
    •  They face life time of gender-based discrimination. The gendered nature of ageing is such that universally, women tend to live longer than men.
    • In the advanced age of 80 years and above, widowhood dominates the status of women with 71 per cent of women and only 29 per cent of men having lost their spouse.
    • Social mores inhibit women from re-marrying, resulting in an increased likelihood of women ending up alone.
    • The life of a widow is riddled with stringent moral codes, with integral rights relinquished and liberties circumvented.
    • Social bias often results in unjust allocation of resources, neglect, abuse, exploitation, gender-based violence, lack of access to basic services and prevention of ownership of assets.
    • Ageing women are more likely to get excluded from social security schemes due to lower literacy and awareness levels
  • Psychological Issues:
    • The common psychological problems that most of the senior citizens’ experiences are-
      • Feeling of powerlessness
      • Feeling of inferiority
      • Depression
      • Uselessness
      • Reduced competence

Digitization and increasing e-governance has posed problems on the elderly:

  • Digital Illiteracy:
    • With Digital India as one of the flagship programs of the government, most of the services from online payment of utility bills to pension to PDS to Banking to Insurance has gone digital. Digital illiteracy is a bane to the elderly who find it difficult to use the facilities.
  • Digital Divide:
    • It increases the “ever-widening generation gap” between the younger and older generations. This is seen in the form of accessibility, affordability to the digital devices and digi-world.
    • 4 per cent digitally illiterate respondents claimed that they consider themselves as marginalized and under- privileged lot of society in new settings, which is governed by modern IT and internet.
  • Poverty:
    • Instances in Jharkand where elderly couldn’t receive their PDS grains due to failure of Aadhar Verification because of missing finger-prints of senior citizens.
    • Almost 70% of women are part of the unconnected population in the country.
    • The gap between the haves and the have-nots is persistent and becoming increasingly problematic.
    • Recent natural disasters have shown that being disconnected has devastating consequences for the elderly and their families.
  • Trust Deficit and Fear:
    • Many older persons live in fear. It is doubled in case of using computer and digital devices due to perceived complications, cyber threats, loss of hard-earned money etc.
    • They feel that there is no reason to use the mobile Internet. This is a generation that has not grown with mobile technology and is usually averse to new technical skills.
  • Reducing personal ties:
    • A whopping 85 per cent rued lack of communication with younger members of their families, due to their “more demanding lifestyle and inability of older family members to understand the modern digital language of communication
    • A lot of older people feel, in the digital age, that they are not relevant or included.