Q) “Examine various social challenges that adversely impact geriatric care in India.” What Measures can be taken to change the life of senior citizens in India?
- Ageing is a continuous, irreversible, universal process, which starts from conception till the death of an individual.
- However, the age at which one’s productive contribution declines and one tends to be economically dependent can probably be treated as the onset of the aged stage of life.
- National Elderly Policy defines person of 60+ age group as elderly.
Population figures on ageing
- Age division of Indian population (0-14) is 30.8%, (15-59) is 60.3%, (60+) is 8.6%.
- According to Population Census 2011, there are nearly 104 million elderly persons in India.
- It has increased from 5.5% in 1951 to 8.6% in 2011.
- Projected a rise up to 19% in 2050.
- As regards rural and urban areas, more than 73 million persons i.e., 71% of elderly population resides in rural areas while 31 million or 29% of elderly population are in urban area.
Ageing in India is exponentially increasing due to the impressive gains that society has made in terms of increased life expectancy. With the rise in elderly population, the demand for holistic care tends to grow. By 2025, the geriatric population is expected to be 840 million in the developing countries
It is projected that the proportion of Indians aged 60 and older will rise from 7.5% in 2010 to 11.1% in 2025.
The needs and problems of the elderly significantly vary according to their age, socioeconomic status, health, living status and other such background characteristics. Their social rights are neglected, and they are profusely abused which goes unreported.
Lack of Infrastructure: With increasing longevity and debilitating chronic diseases, many elder citizens will need better access to physical infrastructure in the coming years. Lack of physical infrastructure is a major deterrent to providing comfort to the aged.
Changing Family Structure: The traditional Indian society with an age-old joint family system has been instrumental in safeguarding the social and economic security of the elderly people. With the emerging prevalence of nuclear family set-ups in recent years, the elderly is likely to be exposed to emotional, physical, and financial insecurity in the years to come.
Lack of Social Support: The elderly in India are much more vulnerable because of the less government spending on social security system. Insurance cover that is elderly sensitive is virtually non- existent in India. Pension and social security are also restricted to those who have worked in the public sector or the organized sector of industry.
Social Inequality: Elderly are a heterogeneous section with an urban and rural divide. They are less vulnerable in rural areas as compared to their urban counterparts, due to the still holding values of the joint family system.
Availability, Accessibility and Affordability of Health Care: Due to the ever-increasing trend of nuclear families, elder care management is getting more difficult, especially for working adult children who find themselves responsible for their parents’ well-being.
Economic Dependency: As per the 52nd round of National Sample Survey Organization, nearly half of the elderly are fully dependent on others, while another 20 percent are partially dependent for their economic needs. About 85% of the aged had to depend on others for their day-to-day maintenance. The situation was even worse for elderly females.
Recent initiatives by government:
Integrated Programme for Older Persons (IPOP):
- Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is a nodal agency for the welfare of elderly people. The main objective of the scheme is to improve the quality of life of older persons by providing basic amenities like shelter, food, medical care, and entertainment opportunities, etc.
RashtriyaVayoshri Yojana (RVY):
- This scheme is run by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. This is a central sector scheme funded from the Senior Citizens’ Welfare Fund.
- Under the RVY scheme, aids and assistive living devices are provided to senior citizens belonging to BPL category who suffer from age-related disabilities such as low vision, hearing impairment, loss of teeth and locomotor disabilities. The aids and assistive devices, viz walking sticks, elbow crutches, walkers/crutches, tripods/quad pods, hearing aids, wheelchairs, artificial dentures, and spectacles are provided to eligible beneficiaries.
- The scheme is being implemented by Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corporation of India (ALIMCO), which is a public sector undertaking under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS):
- The Ministry of Rural Development runs the National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) that extends social assistance for poor households for the aged, widows, disabled, and in cases of death where the breadwinner has died.
- Under this scheme, financial assistance is provided to person of 60 years and above and belonging to family living below poverty line as per the criteria prescribed by Government of India. Central assistance of Rs 200 per month is provided to person in the age group of 60-79 years and Rs 500 per month to persons of 80 years and above.
Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana (VPBY):
- This scheme is run by the Ministry of Finance. The Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana (VPBY) was first launched in 2003 and then relaunched in 2014. Both are social security schemes for senior citizens intended to give an assured minimum pension on a guaranteed minimum return on the subscription amount.
The Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana:
- The Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (PNVVY) was launched in May 2017 to provide social security during old age. This is a simplified version of the VPBY and will be implemented by the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India.
- Under the scheme, on payment of an initial lump sum amount ranging from Rs 1,50,000 for a minimum pension of Rs 1000 per month to a maximum of Rs 7,50,000/- for a maximum pension of Rs 5,000 per month, subscribers will get an assured pension based on a guaranteed rate of return of 8% per annum payable monthly/quarterly/half-yearly/annually.
- The Centre will bear 75 percent of the total budget and the state government will contribute 25 percent of the budget, for activities up to district level.
- Conferred as a National award and given to eminent senior citizens & institutions under various categories for their contributions on International day of older persons on 1st October.
- Increasing the monthly pension of elderly to minimum of Rs 2,000 per month.
- Under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, Housing for the aged, particularly the aged poor, must be a priority.
- Assisted living facilities for indigent elderly, particularly those with age-related issues like dementia, needs policy focus.
- More tax benefits, or at least removing tax on deposit interest for seniors.
- Enhancing the geriatric care health infrastructure especially in rural area.
- Allocation of special budget for elderly population at both levels.
- Providing entertainment facilities like libraries and clubs at panchayat level.
- Appreciations for the contributions of elderlies at village level.
- Social security is the concurrent responsibility of the central and state governments as, mandated under Indian constitution i.e., Well-being of senior citizens – Article 41 and 46 in general of Indian constitution. In this regard, National Policy on Senior Citizen, 2011 was framed.
- For the welfare and care for the older persons, we must focus on the protection of already existing social support systems/traditional social institutions such as family and kinship, neighbourhood bonding, community bonding and community participation must be revived and kins should show sensitivity towards elderly citizens.