Review of the 21st Century Elderly in India
A casual observation reveals that current senior citizens in India lead healthy, honorable, and satisfying lives. After retirement from regular job, they work full day or part-time. Many have sufficient savings, travel to places, learn and use computers, use empowering technology like internet, and live with integrity as active members of the community. On the other side, it is observable that many elderly retire without a pension, provident fund or even savings. Some are exposed to health hazards, lack access to basic healthcare, and suffer abuse and neglect from their kith and kin. This pathetic situation is unacceptable, and should not be allowed to continue.
In spite of changes in social structure, the younger generation takes care of the elderly relatives. But living conditions and quality of care vary among communities (Prasad, 1991). His study, on the living conditions of the elderly, found that they prefer to live only with their children. But another study by Sumangala (2003) indicates that some elders enjoyed living with spouse (alone) or with their unmarried children.
With respect to psychological aspect of the elderly, Ramamurthi (1978) found that among older people reasoning is slowed down, memory becomes impaired, enthusiasm in life decreases, health concerns increases, and sleep patterns alters. Such problems tend to appear steadily after the age of 50, resulting in poor adjustments if not addressed.
Many problems of the old people are related to the loss of income due to total or partial loss of occupation. Many retired people in India feel the loss of social status along with the loss of job (Siva Raju, 2005). The idea that old age is an age of ailments and physical infirmities is deeply rooted in the Indian psyche. People become increasingly susceptible to chronic diseases, physical disabilities and mental incapacities, as they grow older (Siva Raju, 2002).
Sumangala, P.R. 2003. Retired People and their Participation in Family Activities. Man in India, Volume S3 (1&2)
Siva Raju, S. 2002. Situational Analysis of Older Persons in Mumbai. Mumbai :Family Welfare Agency. ( Mimeo).
Siva Raju S. 2005. Employment and Income Security for the Elderly : A Study in Mumbai. Paper presented at International Conference on Employment and Income Security in India, Institute of Human Development, New Delhi, April 6-8.
Ramamurthi, P.V. (1978). “The sixth decade and after,” Sree Venkateshwara University Press, Tirupathi.
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