“India is improving.” We often read and hear it through newspapers, articles, reports, speeches, etc. Although it looks good from the outside and you feel proud about it, the inner story speaks the opposite. How are senior citizens treated in our society? Just ask yourself, how much time you spend with your parents or for how long you haven’t spoken to them? Well, as we grow old, we begin to forget that our parents are getting older too. In the race of earning money and chasing comfort, we have turned selfish, insensitive, and uncaring. That’s today’s harsh reality, which everyone, especially the younger generation do not realise.
In the fast-paced life, we are brutally
damaging our traditional social structures with an ungrateful attitude towards
the elderly. We have forgotten the efforts that our parents put into raising
us. We have overlooked their sacrifices and continued to live a life of
self-obsession with no regards to elders. We have left them alone when they
need us the most. In our jobs, we follow ethics; we follow various guidelines;
however, in real life, we have turned humanity into a meaningless thought. It
seems that “educated is the new uncivilised.”
In India, countless cases speak about the
worsening lives of elderly and senior citizens. A report says that the global
elderly population is expected to grow more than 200 per cent and reach up to 2
billion by 2050. It is envisioned that senior citizens alone would account for
20 per cent of the total population. Now imagine, if this massive populace
would not be taken care of and treated unfairly and that too by their own children,
would we be able to justify “India is improving”?
A large number of elderly in our country
are left abandoned with no mental, physical, economic or emotional care. Many
are even deprived of the essential services in the hour of need. In the coming
years, only a small portion of people would be entitled to receive pensions
after retirement; and, more than 50 per cent of this population will rely on
others. Sadly, senior women face more economic challenges despite several women
empowerment initiatives in the country.
Leading a life with no steady income
followed by other concerns such as high healthcare costs, poor safety and
security, loneliness, mental ailments, etc., are the darkest times for
anelderly human. Also, those who stay with their families do not get adequate
support and care that they deserve. In such times, NGOs are the real heroes and
the immediate caregivers of the elderly. Many such organisations in India are
working in the same direction and are successfully providing senior citizens
with a dignified life when they are abandoned.
NGOs are gradually multiplying in India and
are facilitating homecare and hospice services for senior citizens combined
with basic geriatric healthcare facilities. There is a huge chunk of agedpeople
who can’t afford treatment and daily essentials. Hence, numerous NGOs provide
free medical and health care to many needy and underprivileged elderly. A large
number of such organisations have also taken initiatives to open hospitals
especially dedicated to the senior citizens of India.
There is another question that comes as a
shock to all – why should we only expect children to be responsible for their
parents? It is also the responsibility of the society to engage them in various
entertaining activities, and break the bubble of loneliness they are living in.
At such age, people need warmth, love and care not only from their families but
society too. Several NGOs are thus striving to ensure that they don’t feel
These NGOs also assess their achievements
and accordingly address their weak points to improve their offerings to the
elderly. They understand that stuffing these people into the old-age homes is
not the way, but offering them a homely environment, which is fueled with love
and care. There are many NGOs in India whose names keep coming out as renowned
newspapers publish their stories. Now, imagine how many more would be existing
that are silently working on the same cause and thus helping senior citizens
live a better life.
Honest work has been appreciated across
India with various NGOs winning awards and recognition. However, in a country
like ours, which has such a huge population of senior citizens, more needs to
be done. The number of elderly is only going to increase in the coming years,
and to give them a happy life, the government should take an increasing number
of corrective measures.
Most importantly, there is a need to bring
change in the attitude of people; the mindset towards holistic healthcare
should be encouraged, and everyone should empathise with the elderly.
In this mad race for fame and becoming rich
in a quick-fix manner, the children have forgotten the rich values and ethics.
They have no gratitude for parents, elders and teachers, who have been
instrumental in shaping their lives. People, societies and nations at large
can’t flourish if they fail to respect and care for the elders. They are our
roots, so, let’s nurture these roots and help them stand tall in their twilight
days and enjoy the real bliss of life. All of these small steps together will
create a new India for the elderly, where they can lead a peaceful life.