Left without care, city’s elderly battle loneliness, insecurity
As their children are settled abroad or have chosen nuclear over joint families, the aged parents – many of them single – in the city are left to manage on their own. The limited or no source of income, deteriorating health conditions and security are major concerns for senior citizens.
Though the authorities concerned claim to have adopted a number of initiatives to ensure security to our elderly, including the Delhi Police launching a mobile app early this month, the ground reality narrates a different tale – that of a routine struggle and loneliness.
The condition of senior citizens – living in posh localities such as Defence Colony, Greater Kailash, Sainik Farms and Pamposh Enclave to name a few or in the middle-class trans-Yamuna areas – is the same. The ‘ignored lot’ lives in sheer isolation. As a result, many of them are stressed out or depressed.
A recent study conducted by the Agewell Foundation, an NGO, reveals that every tenth person in the country – over 1.2 billion population – has crossed the age of 60 years. Most elderly people living in the national Capital continue to face socio-economic, health and psychological problems.
It has been learnt that Delhi houses a total population of over 2 crore and around 11 lakh of them are aged above 60 years. The data further reveal that over 1 lakh of them are living alone.
However, the Delhi Police data show that only 27,348 senior citizens are living alone or through the day.
On October 1, the Delhi Police had launched a mobile app for senior citizens, which they claim has been a big hit. But as most senior citizens are not technology-friendly and this app is hardly of any use to them.
Besides, many have registered a police complaint that the personnel assigned to visit them at regular intervals seldom do so.
According to data provided by the Delhi Police, over 2.85 lakh police visits were made to the elderly till August this year.
Policemen, who attend to distress calls made by senior citizens in the PCR, said 65 per cent of the elderly living here felt lonely and were depressed mostly because they were unable to talk to their children due to various reasons. Of these, almost 36 per cent people said that their health had deteriorated further as they were living alone.
According to the Agewell Foundation survey, which is based on the interviews of senior citizens, with the fast-changing socio-economic and demographic scenario, increasing nuclear families and fast-changing traditions, the needs of the elderly have also changed and “loneliness” has emerged as a major problem.
“In Delhi/ NCR, every third senior citizen, facing loneliness, was found in poor health. Due to isolation, 16.2 per cent of the elderly felt insecure,” highlights the survey report.
The survey found out that all the elderly need, apart from basic care, are respect and appreciation, love and compassion and family support.
The survey report underlined that nuclear families were the “main factor” responsible for the isolation of senior citizens living in Delhi and NCR. About 78.1 per cent of the respondents are reportedly living in inhumane conditions or lived alone.
The latest report by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) identifies Delhi as the most unsafe city for senior citizens, having a rate of 89 crimes per one lakh elderly population. It stated that senior citizens living here were almost five times more likely to become victims of a crime than the rest of the country.