Non-metro cities more kind to its elderly

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New Delhi, June 4 (UNI) With killings of senior citizens in big cities on the rise, social protection tops the list of needs of the elders who continue to remain lonely, insecure and vulnerable, a new comprehensive study on the elderly in India has revealed.

The study, carried out in four metros and four non metros conducted by HelpAge India and released in the presence of Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah yesterday, brings out little known facts about the insecurities and needs of the urban elderly. It also brought out how the elderly in small towns and cities were happier and healthier due to greater social interactions and community support. Also, the need for assistance was more pronounced in metros than in non metros where life was more cohesive, said Rajeshwar Devarkonda of HelpAge India while presenting the report on the "Needs Assessment Study among Urban elderly".

The study, that covered Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata and non-metros Lucknow Vijaywada, Bhubaneswar and Ahmedabad, showed that 62 per cent of the elderly are financially dependent on their children, which itself is among a major reason for their insecurity.

Migration of children for better placements aggravated their worries and loneliness. Only, just 32 per cent of the elderly avail pensions of any kind, skewed due to the presence of retirees given the urban context.

More than half the elderly felt insecure due to economic and health uncertainties. A major reason for their insecurity was depletion of savings, increasing inflation and dependence on children.

About one fourth (24 per cent) of the elderly felt insecure, largely because of health problems, shortage of money and living alone. Nearly 42 per cent of the elderly desired physical assistance for their medical needs, including buying medicines.

Women were in need of greater help in buying essentials.

About two third of the elderly moved from other city or town while one third have been living in the city since birth. But the feeling of isolation is high among the nearly 5 per cent of the elderly living alone for the past ten years without any support.

Living alone due to lack of support from children was more common among females. In a sorry reflection, negligence and disregard from close relatives was the major social problem faced by the old in their day-to-day life.

Plagued by ailments and infirmities, 42 per cent of the elderly, mostly women, had poor health and complained of a health system that was indifferent to their needs. Expectedly, the elderly in the non metros (40 per cent) enjoyed better health than those in the metros (28 per cent). Also, non metros reported high incidence of care by children in case of illness(89 per cent).

However, Delhi emerged as the metro with more caring children (86 per cent) while Chennai was the worst with only 52.7 per cent being supported by children in their illnesses.

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