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Elderly care

India has the second highest population of elderly people in the world with 104 million people above the age of 60 years[1]. Increasing life expectancy and a reduction in fertility rate are the chief causes of this. Between 2001 and 2011, India’s population grew by 17.7%, while the elderly population shot up by 35.5%. This led to a sharp increase in the old-age dependency ratio – more elders per 100 persons in the age group of 15-59 (working age)[2].

Life expectancy of women in India, as observed in the entire world, is higher than men, as is their proportion. According to records from 2009-2013, life expectancy at birth for women was 69.3 years and for men 65.8 years.

Chilling Facts

  • 90% of the elderly have no official social security - no gratuity, no provident fund, no pension.
  • 57% of the oldest old are widows or widowers - proportion of widowers higher than widows.
  • Out of 82% of economically dependent elders, 72% suffer physical abuse, and resulting health problems.
  • Around 52% of the elder population is living in poverty and very poor health conditions.
  • Only 12% are aware of government elderly welfare schemes and only 5% are covered under health insurance.
  • NGO involvement in elderly care is a meagre 3%.

Source- Help Age Report based upon Socio-Economic Caste Census, 2011

Elderly care: A social responsibility

A majority of 71% of the elderly population lives in rural India and 29% in the urban. Factors like literacy level, economic independence, age-old dependency ratio, diseases and other health impacts vary.

Due to economic dependency, elderly women suffer the most. All elderly persons are vulnerable to disabilities, dementia and other physical and mental ailments. Around 6.4% of elderly in rural areas and 5.5% in urban areas suffer from at least one or more of these, the later being more susceptible to stress-related disorders like heart diseases and blood pressure. 

With rapid urbanisation and a shift in socio-economic priorities, traditional family structures and values have changed. The trend of small, nuclear families is more prevalent than joint families. To make matters worse, the rising rate of old-age illnesses and lack of affordable geriatric services adds pressure on families. Illiteracy, poor financial savings/opportunities and fast-paced life leave the elderly neglected and cared for. Meager old age pensions provided by the government (Rs. 200 per month in many states barring few like Goa where it is Rs. 2000) are insufficient. It is a matter of concern that India spends only 0.032% in pensions, covering just 25% percent of the elderly population, compared to Nepal which covers 47% and China 74%.

This has compelled several NGOs to focus their work on elderly welfare programmes and advocacy for elder friendly policies.

CAF India’s interventions & experience

CAF India endeavors to fill the gaps in elderly care by providing much-needed services and support to the aged. We are working with partner organisations to provide medical counseling and services, livelihood options, and facilities for yoga and recreational entertainment. Some of our partners are setting up old age homes for the abandoned and creating opportunities for the people to use their skills to economically sustain themselves. While understanding their emotional and psychological needs, the elderly are being allotted to different homes and economic project areas, where they can benefit to the maximum and interact with each other to live a happier life.

[1] Population census 2011

[2]Ibid.