New Delhi: Lack of dedicated funds and self employment schemes in India are contributing to the sorry state of elderly in India, a survey done by Agewell Foundation a non-governmental organization in association with the United Nations revealed.
The survey, done on over 1,500 senior citizens spread across 15 major cities in the country, tried to capture some emerging trends of issues concerning older persons. During the interactions, retired senior citizens raised unique issues like initiating dedicated fund for senior citizens at national level, exclusive safety and security measures for the aged, research and advocacy for issues concerning old people, self-employment schemes for the retired people and dedicated healthcare insurance for elderly.
The study found that at least 71% senior citizens emphasized that there must be dedicated funds for the senior citizens at national level, which can support senior-citizen friendly projects i.e. old age housing schemes, old age trauma centres, old age mobile medicare services, old age recreation clubs, old age pilgrimage, etc.
Over 67% senior citizens reportedly said that setting up of a legal framework, exclusively to look after safety and security issues of senior citizens, is need of the hour. It will play an important role in dealing with violation of human rights of older persons and various forms of elder abuse at all levels.
“Due to fast increasing elderly population, trends of issues concerning older persons have also changed dramatically over the years. Besides traditional social security schemes, like old age pension, senior citizens are now demanding dedicated funds, schemes and provisions for their welfare and empowerment in old age," Himanshu Rath, Chairman, Agewell Foundation said. "We believe timely and appropriate provisions would certainly empower millions of older persons and will help in creating an older persons friendly environment in India," he said.
According to the survey findings, around 59% senior citizens said that government must establish an apex healthcare body at national level, which will ensure providing medical facilities to senior citizens and encourage research activities in the field of gerontology.
“About 56% senior citizens (primarily from the age group of 60-70 years) said that government must launch self-Employment schemes for the retired senior citizens at larger scale to offer them gainful engagement opportunities in old age. They claimed that this initiative will also help in creating jobs for unemployed youths," the study said.
Further, 55% senior citizens also advocated for extending health insurance benefits to more senior citizens, so that they can be offered extended life cover under various health insurance schemes and provisions for covering older persons (at least up to the age of 75 years) could be made in Insurance Regulatory Development Authority of India (IRDAI).