On December 14, 1990 the United Nations mkGeneral Assembly voted to establish October 1 as the International Day of Older Persons and the first holiday was observed for the first time on October 1, 1991. The holiday is celebrated by raising awareness about issues affecting the elderly and by appreciating the contributions that older people make to society.
The contributions that these elderly people have made to a society, community or a country can never really be measured. We all seek the blessings and guidance of our elders because they are more knowledgeable and have more experience about things. But how do we treat the same people when they are unable to meet their daily requirements. Do we also make them feel happy by being happy to help them?
Nearly 15 million elderly Indians live all alone
Census 2011 data on the number of elderly people (above 60 years) and household size released this week revealed the following:
· Nearly 15 million elderly Indians live all alone
· Close to three-fourths of this elderly population are women
· In Tamil Nadu, one in eleven of those above 60 live alone
As per a TOI report, "One in every seven elderly persons in India lives in a household where there is nobody below the age of 60. In states like Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, a quarter of the elderly population lives in such all-elderly households."
There is an increase in number of assaults, stealing and killing cases in the city among the senior citizens in the recent past. And with these many elderly Indians living alone, one would definitely be worried about their safety and security. It is not an easy task for the seniors to be tension free when their children and family members do not reside with them.
Elderly to constitute 20 per cent of India's population by 2050, are we ready?
"India has around 100 million elderly at present and the number is expected to increase to 323 million, constituting 20 per cent of the total population, by 2050," the report jointly brought out by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Help Age International said.
The report also emphasized on addressing urgent concerns of elderly person worldwide like investment in pension and quality health care and warned that if these concerns are not addressed promptly then the consequences will take the unprepared countries by surprise.
Are the Indian elderly happy?
With the increasing age, the loneliness and vulnerability of elderly also rises. At this age what they need is security, safety and a friendly environment.
As per a survey, nearly three-quarters of all old people in the country are ready to move to a community that offers them special services. The survey also said that a large number of them feel lonely."
An HT report said, "Today's seniors are living alone in an environment where they are not satisfied with the current security options. Eighty percent of the seniors surveyed were concerned about the possibility of theft and violence, as they lived alone."
"The need for a comprehensive senior living community in today's day and age is increasing. Three out of every four seniors are open to moving to an assisted senior living community and seniors are increasingly seeking and willing to pay for residential communities with housekeeping support and leisure avenues," Sujay Misra of AZ Research was quoted as saying in HT.
Time for senior citizens specific communities?
Today, the children don't stay with parents due to job and even if they are living, the elderly feels lonely because all the members in the family are working. So, with the rising crime against senior citizens and with the security concerns in our country, should we start thinking about special communities and societies which are devoted to provide all such things to the elderly?
Is it time for India to have senior citizen specific communities which are focused on offering safe, secure and healthy living to them? It's imperative to provide our elderly a stress free life, a place, a living space which is designed to give them a holistic lifestyle.
It's important to take some time out and pay heed to the needs and demands of section of our society too. We should make this section of society also happy and secure and thank them for all they have done for us.