New Delhi: Living conditions for the elderly haven’t improved in the past 15 years in India despite well-intentioned government schemes and policies, found a survey by a UN agency and Agewell Foundation.

The study Changing needs and rights of older people in India—a review 2017, released on Wednesday, involved 15,000 elderly people across 300 districts of 25 states and Union territories in India. It was conducted by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) at the United Nations in association with Agewell Foundation, a Delhi-based non-governmental organization (NGO).

“Approximately 59% respondents said that social status of older people in Delhi-NCR has deteriorated during the past 15 years. Over 47% elderly said that healthcare status of older people has not improved at all during the past 15 years. Over 36% elderly stated that financial status of older people has not improved during last 15 years," the survey report said.

The government has formulated several well-intentioned policies and laws but there is no effective implementation mechanism and most of the policies and provisions remain just on paper, the report said.

According to the survey, every seventh elderly person said that he or she had experienced violence in old age. Overall, 12.6% elderly said they were mistreated in public places and almost every 10th elderly person claimed to have been mistreated at home as well as public places. Over 46.82% of elderly people complained that there was no strong and effective mechanism to protect the human rights of older people in India.

Over half (53.5%) of the elderly respondents said they had been mistreated in their old age. Of these 58% said the place of mistreatment was their own home. Moreover, 30% said they prefer to remain quiet in case of violation of their human rights and don’t raise their voices. Around 41% older people said they have no knowledge of any mechanism to protect their human rights.

According to the study, older persons, particularly those aged above 80 years, suffered violation of human rights due to several factors, ranging from poor financial, social and psychological status to fragile health condition.

“In India issues concerning old age are turning into bigger challenges due to the unprecedented rate of growth of this section of the population (128 million and growing). There is a strong need for well-conceived policies and their implementation, backed by strong political and administrative will power," said Himanshu Rath, founder chairman of Agewell Foundation.

“Social security system, old age healthcare, empowerment of older people and protection of human rights of older people are burning issues, which need to be addressed on priority basis. There is a widespread anxiety among older people, particularly younger older people (60-70 years) about the current old age scenario in the society," Rath said.

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