Old Age in an Indifferent Society
Author : T.K. Nair
Pages : 146
Ageing is an inevitable, natural phenomenon. From nearly hundred million in 2011-2012, the estimated sixty-plus population of India will be around three hundred and twenty million in 2050. This phenomenal increase poses many challenges and provides many opportunities depending on the perception and preparedness of the central and state governments. This edited book, a collection of articles, aims at addressing some issues.
The first article discusses the concept of old age. One of the earliest studies was by Marulasiddaiah. Old people of Makunti, published after a long gap, was based on a village study conducted by him more than fifty years ago. His findings are relevant even today. A significant feature is with regard to the partition of the family property. Often the parents, along with the land, house, utensils, ornaments, grains, money, and other trivial things, are also divided. Visweswara Rao’s article on the rural elderly analyses the situation of the older people in Indian villages. He also reviews the relevant policies and programmes.
Devi Prasad, as the title of his article suggests, narrates the struggles of the elderly victims of abuse and neglect in the Indian families. The stories of elder abuse reveal two main angles according to Devi Prasad. One is that the patterns of elder abuse reflect the prevailing negative stereotypes towards the elderly and their roles in the society. The other is how we are explaining the phenomenon of ill-treatment of the elderly in the larger context of socio-economic realities.
The role of traditional medicines as well as the close link between the health of the ageing population and Ayurveda are examined by Unnikrishnan. He observes “approach to elderly care should be based on the vision of reinforcing family and community-based care in a locally driven process harnessing locally available resources and knowledge”. Siva Raju outlines the research priorities in the field of aging. He quotes from the Research Agenda on Ageing for the 21st century adopted by the Second World Assembly on Ageing at Madrid 2002 : “There is a need to assess the ‘state of the art’ of existing knowledge, as it varies across countries and regions, and to identify priority gaps in information necessary for policy development”.
Nair has added four articles. In State and the Elderly, he analyses the weaknesses of the existing social security measures. The indifferent attitude of the state towards the elderly has been discussed as seen from the lack of proper implementation of the National Policies since 1999. In the article on Eldercare Services, he suggests community-based services. Life Satisfaction in Old Age is a field study-based article. Mean life satisfaction score of the elderly is found to be low. Life satisfaction score of the urban elderly is double that of the rural elderly. Life satisfaction level is also associated with health status, economic condition, and belief in re-birth. The last article is on issues concerning neglect of the older persons in a society of indifference.
Elder care in India meant homes for the aged till 1979, when Helpage India and the Centre for the Welfare of the Aged (CEWA) pioneered non-institutional services in Madras city. Ajith presents a case study of CEWA and its contribution to a new approach in promoting participatory elder care services which can be replicated in different parts of the country with region-specific adaptations. Nightingales Medical Trust (NMT) in Bengaluru has taken initiative to “take health care to the elderly at their door”. Many family-based health support systems for the senior citizens belonging to different socio-economic groups are initiated by NMT. Of particular significance is the unit for therapy and rehabilitation of patients affected by Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. KalpanaSampath developed the case study of NMT based on repeated visits and discussions with the important functionaries.
I thank Prof H.M. Marulasiddaiah, Chief Adviser, and M.H. Ramesha, Editor of SamajaKaryadaHejjegalu (Social Work Foot-Prints) for their love and support. I also thank NIRUTA Publications for publishing this book.
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