Old age can be the period of despair and despondency for some elders, especially for those older parents who see themselves neglected or ignored by the young ones at old age when they need support and help from young ones. Old age has its own issues, challenges and problems which are beyond the control of old people. They are dependent physically, socially and mentally on others. It has grave implications on their life when their cherished dear ones turn Nelson's eye towards their plights.
Benjamin Disraeli defined life with emphasis on old age as "Youth is blunder, Manhood a struggle, Old age regret”. Regret in the sense that they have exhausted their energy and happiness in toiling for the bliss of young ones. Now when they need them in trying time they are so engrossed in their affairs and work that they fail to get time from the society to get due attention or some life support in crucial periods of their life when they are at the threshold of death.
It must be borne in mind that Gerontologists have highlighted social, physical and mental implications of old age. There are many instances where old parents strongly yearn to see the face of their young ones who either are outside their homes due to job exigencies or have some social issues in the family. Some youngsters do not even bother to talk to them on phone or in person; some old parents have not even seen their youngsters for the last few years. This gap between them rather than apathy has doubled the misery of old parents. We have number of cases of destitute senior citizens who don't get the attention of society.
The old age has been generally starting from 60 years onwards, this is the last stage in the life of an individual where their frailty and fragility has no cure but only care is panacea. Old people are vulnerable to stress, they feel alone and neglected due to various apprehensions for them. When they see relatives and young ones at this stage they get social therapy, caring words give them strength to bear the vagaries of old age. It is heart wrenching that they are not accorded the dignity by their youngsters in many situations due to neglect. The present socio- economic changes have made them insecure.
In nuclear families they often face neglect due to lack of companionship, scant mobility due to health issues and aging. Their depression level and mental disorder can be mended by intimacy, love, care and by giving patient hearing to them even if their words seem illogical. The chronic diseases of elders prove troublesome for the rest of healthy family members. We must work to ensure their health care, financial support and have empathy in their seclusion by giving them company. If we are too busy then manage time for them or arrange at least some permanent care taker during your excessive engagements. Don't forget to see them. Provide them a congenial atmosphere and never subject them to domestic violence wittingly or unwittingly.
We have nearly 138 million elderly persons in India, including 67 million men and 71 million women as per Govt reports. The Government has taken a slew of measures to address various issues and needs to mitigate the problems of old aged persons, but it is unfortunate when we are not personally mindful how we can we help them to get the benefits of Govt. Schemes and programmes. Govt has initiated flagship social Security scheme APY Atal pension Yojana in 2015 to provide old age income security particularly to the senior citizens in various sectors. Recently Govt has covered 65 lac subscribers in its ambit. National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) is a sponsored scheme of the GOI that provides financial assistance to the elderly widows, and persons with disabilities in the form of social pensions. Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension scheme is meant for the welfare of widows across the India. More over pension Parishad is an initiative to ensure universal pension to all workers in India which is non contributory and universal old age pension system with monthly assistance.
The Government is providing food to senior citizens who cannot take care of themselves and are not under the cover of the National Pension Scheme. Food grains of 10 kg are provided to poor and indigent senior citizens. So there is no dearth of schemes and programmes for the welfare and care of old age but we must be aware and ready to help them. We must know that according to WHO India's elderly population will rise from its current number and old age dependency will show upward trend in coming years. The elderly care need well thought-out strategy on part of their family members, relatives and other social groups that will mitigate their problems so that these hapless people will not suffer.
Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in collaboration with National Institute of Social Defense (NISD) has launched Pan-India toll free National Helpline for senior citizens (Elder Line-14567 in September 2021). This is a unique platform across India to connect and share the problems of senior citizens and get information and guidance on day to day basis. This helpline service will connect them with Doctors Hospitals, old-age homes, and activity centers. Another intervention is legal aid, Maintenance related issues and pension queries, life support regarding anxiety, emotional support and relationship management is ensured through it; this will address any issue related to elders’ abuse and rescue in odd situations for destitute and abandoned elders.
There is an acute need of awareness among masses regarding elderly care and other obligations besides people should be facilitators for senior citizens in their tough days of life. We must remember that at this critical juncture of life we need to stand with them for their care so that on our turn, we too will get fair deal and care otherwise we don't deserve feelings of lamentation on their loss.
(Author is a columnist and can be reached on: email@example.com)