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Keshav Ram Singhal

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Monday, 2 May 2016

Aging: The facts and problems

India, like many other developing countries in the world, is presently witnessing rapid ageing of its population.. Even though the proportion of India’s elderly is small compared with that of developed countries, the absolute number of elderly population is on the high. There has been tremendous increase in the number of elderly population since independence in India from 20.19 million in 1951 (5.5 per cent of total population) to 43.17 million in 1981 and 55 million in 1991. According to 2001 census around 77 million population is above 60 years which constitutes 7.5 per cent of the total population of the country. This number is expected to increase to 177.4 million in 2025.

Providing care for the aged had never been a problem in India where a value based joint family system was dominant. However, with a growing trend towards nuclear family set-up, and increasing education, urbanization and industrialization, the vulnerability of elderly is rapidly increasing.

Sociologically, ageing marks a form of transition from one set of social roles to another, and such roles are difficult. Among all role transformation in the course of ageing, the shift into the new role of the ‘old’ is one of the most complex and complicated.

In an agriculture based traditional society, where children followed their parent’s occupation, it was natural that the expertise and knowledge of each generation were passed on to the next, thus affording older persons a useful role in society. However, this is no longer true in modern society, in which improved education, rapid technical change and new forms of organization have often rendered obsolete the knowledge, experience and wisdom of older persons. Once they retire, elderly people find that their children are not seeking advice from them anymore, and society has not much use for them.

This realization often results in feeling of loss of status, worthlessness and loneliness. The growth of nuclear families has also meant a need for changes in role relations. Neither having authority in the family, nor being needed, they feel frustrated and depressed. If the older person is economically dependent on the children, the problem is likely to become even worse.

Problems faced by the elderly.

Economic Problems

Economic factors definitely play a major role in generating care for elderly people. The economic status, of the family, as well as that of the care-receiver, the functional ability status of the care receiver and care giver is an additional factor that appears to contribute to the burden.

Psychological Problems

The common psychological problems that most of the older persons experience are : feeling of powerlessness, feeling of inferiority, depression, uselessness, isolation and reduced competence use.

Health Problems

Health problems are supposed to be the major concern of a society as older people are more prone to suffer from ill health than younger age groups. It is often claimed that ageing is accompanied by multiple illness and physical ailments. Heart conditions (hypertension, vascular disease, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure and coronary artery disease,dementia,depression,eye problems etc)

Courtesy - CSR@NHANCE Monthly e-Newsletter, Vol. No.24, May 2016

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