Old Age, Problems of Old Age in India, Rights of the Elderly

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  • WHO: 600 million 60+ people in the world

  • This will double by 2025

  • By 2050 one out of five persons will be 60+

  • As per Census 2001

  • Total population of 60+ people was 7.7 crore

    • Male: 3.8 crore

    • Female: 3.9 crore

  • Substantial increase in health care facilities

  • Government Policy

  • National Policy on Older Persons (1999)

    • Envisages state support to fulfil food security, shelter and protection against exploitation among the aged

    • Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007

    • Includes penal provision and even revocation of transfer of property by senior citizens for the abandonment or negligence by their children or relatives

    • National Old Age Pension Scheme

  • Rights of the aged:

    • Protection: physical, psychological and emotional safety

    • Participation: need to establish a more active role for older persons

    • Image: need to create a healthy and respectful attitude

  • Problems of the aged:

    • Physical: basic needs like food, shelter and physical support and protection

    • Psychological front: coping with loneliness, feelings of low self-worth and general insecurity

    • Healthcare: diseases like dementia, Alzheimer and cancer

    • Economic: lack of income and funds

    • Social: they often don’t come out in open when abused by children or relatives

  • Steps to be taken:

  • Tap care from all three sources: the family, the state and the community

  • Health: focus not only on in-patient care but also on palliative and rehabilitation care. Health insurance is another area where state intervention is required

  • Put in place mechanisms to ensure availability, accessibility and affordability of a decent life and good health among the aged

  • Implement the Act effectively to ensure that children take care of their aged parents

Problems of Old Age in India

  • A man’s life is normally divided into five main stages namely infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood and old age. In each of these stages an individual has to find himself in different situations and face different problems. The old age is not without problems. In old age physical strength deteriorates, mental stability diminishes; money power becomes bleak coupled with negligence from the younger generation.

  • There are 81million older people in India-11 lakh in Delhi itself. According to an estimate nearly 40% of senior citizens living with their families are reportedly facing abuse of one kind or another, but only 1 in 6 cases actually comes to light. Although the President has given her assent to the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act(2007) which punishes children who abandon parents with a prison term of three months or a fine, situation is grim for elderly people in India.

  • According to NGOs incidences of elderly couples being forced to sell their houses are very high. Some elderly people have also complained that in case of a property dispute they feel more helpless when their wives side with their children. Many of them suffer in silence as they fear humiliation or are too scared to speak up. According to them a phenomenon called ‘grand dumping’ is becoming common in urban areas these days as children are being increasingly intolerant of their parents’ health problems.

  • After a certain age health problems begin to crop up leading to losing control over one’s body, even not recognizing own family owing to Alzheimer are common in old age. It is then children began to see their parents as burden. It is these parents who at times wander out of their homes or are thrown out. Some dump their old parents or grandparents in old-age homes and don’t even come to visit them anymore. Delhi has nearly 11 lakh senior citizens but there are only 4 governments’ run homes for them and 31 by NGOs, private agencies and charitable trusts. The facilities are lacking in government run homes.

Rights of the Elderly

  • Parents cannot be evicted from a house without due process of law if they have been staying there from before. There is three enactments that can be applied.

  • Under section 125 of the CrPC, a magistrate can order a child to maintain his old parents under the Maintenance of Parents Act.

  • The Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act say an aged parent can demand maintenance from children in the same way that a wife can demand it from her husband.

  • The Domestic Violence Act too provides parents with the right to seek relief from any kind of abuse.

  • A National Policy on older persons was announced in January 1999 which identified a number of areas of intervention-financial security, healthcare and nutrition, shelter, education, welfare, protection of life and property for the wellbeing of older persons in the country. A National Council for Older Persons (NCOP) was constituted by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to operationalize the National Policy on older persons.

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