State of the Elderly in India
Indians are living longer, thanks to the better nutritional standards and health awareness and access to health facilities. The current average national life expectancy is 65. With retirement age being 58 or 60, depending on the state where one resides, an average individual will have to live five to seven years as part of an extended family, it is assumed.
A recent report by HelpAge, a leading NGO working for the welfare of the elderly people has recently issued a comprehensive report on the State of the elderly people in India. We have compiled salient features of the same for the Islamic Voice readers.
• The mean age of the elderly across the cities is 67 years. Nearly half (49%) of the elderly in Kolkata are of 70+ years.
• Three-fifths (60%) of the elderly are currently married, while more than one third (38%) are widow/ widower.
• The mean number of children the elderly have is 4, with 2 sons and 2 daughters with highest being reported in Delhi NCR and Patna (5 each) and lowest in Hyderabad (3).
• More than two-thirds (72%) of the elderly stay with son, while one fourth (23%) stay with spouse. More than one tenth (13%) are living with their daughter.
• More than half (52%) of the elderly are illiterate with one-fourth (23%) having completed Primary levels and 15% having Middle level education. Proportion of illiterate is highest in Patna (72%) and lowest in Hyderabad (27%).
• As regards the last main occupation, one-third worked as unskilled workers and 26% were homemakers.
• One-fifth (21%) of the elderly are currently engaged in an economic activity with Chennai reporting the highest (38%) and Delhi NCR the lowest (7%).
• The average monthly household income of the elderly is Rs. 6,269. About 30% of the elderly have a monthly household income in the range of Rs 2,501-5,000.
• More than half (55%) of the elderly have remittance from children as the main source of income and more than one-third (35%) receive pension.
• More than two-thirds (69%) of the elderly are living in their own house while 30% are living in a rented place.
• More than two-fifths (41%) of the elderly own property and this is highest in Delhi NCR (76%) and Bhopal (75%) and lowest in Ahmedabad (4%)
• One-third (31%) of the elderly need assistance from anyone for daily routine activities with more than half (52%) are dependent on daughter-in-law.
• Two third (66%) of the elderly are financially dependent on others, with highest being reported in Ahmedabad (86%) and Mumbai (79%). Majority (85%) of the elderly reported being dependent for medical expenditure while three fourth (75%) for daily living expenditure.
• More than four-fifths (81%) of the elderly are financially dependent on their son and 14% on their daughter and 12% on daughter-in-law.
Abuse of the Elderly
• Three-fifths (60%) of the elderly consider verbal abuse as elder abuse while more than two-fifths (48%) feel physical abuse constitutes elder abuse.
• More than one-third of the elderly feel that elder abuse constitutes emotional abuse (37%), showing disrespect (36%) and economic abuse (35%).
• Nearly one-fifth (19%) of the elderly feel neglected with 20% of the elderly in the age group of 60-69 years feeling so. Feeling of being neglected stems from family members not interacting and being busy in their own lives/ work.
• More than one-fifths (22%) of the elderly have experienced any type of abuse with this being reported highest in Bangalore (44%) followed by Hyderabad (38%) and Bhopal (30%).
• It is observed that higher cases of elder abuse occur among elderly after 70 years. This trend was also observed among the higher socio economic strata last year
• Verbal abuse is reported more in Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore while emotional abuse seems to be more in Bangalore
• In case of emotional abuse, mental torture was reported the most with Mumbai recording the highest (84%). ‘Speaking in loud voice’ is the highest percentage of abuse in case of verbal abuse.
• Abuse is reported more from the family members, with daughter in law and son emerging as the major abusers.
• Abuse by daughter-in-law was reported most in Delhi (100%) followed by Hyderabad (89%), and Bhopal (87%).
• Half of the elderly from the lower socio economic strata reported facing abuse because of lack of emotional support. Last year among the elderly from higher socio economic strata, property issues emerged as the most common context for abuse.
• More than two-thirds (68%) of the elderly from the lower socio economic strata did not take any action when they faced abuse. Most (98%) of the elderly reported not filing a complaint against abuse faced. Unwillingness to take any action against abuse stems from the perception among the elderly that – ‘it would lead to further abuse’ and ‘sense of shame in the community’.
Low Awareness about Laws against Abuse
• One third (33%) of the elderly are aware of existing laws and programmes against elder abuse.
• Among the elderly who are aware of the laws, policies and programmes, 18% are aware of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizen’s Act, 11% of the elderly are aware of the National Policy on Older Persons and 12% are aware of the Protection for Women against Domestic Violence Act
• Awareness of the law enforcing agencies is low as only 5% of the elderly are aware of these.
• The major measures to be taken up by the law enforcing agencies suggested by the elderly include ‘giving protection’ (38%), ‘serving notice to the abuser’ and ‘carrying out home visits’ (33% each).
• ‘Having steady cash flow’ (51%), ‘having own property to reduce economic dependency’ (48%) and ‘making adjustments within family’ (35%) and are the major measures suggested by the elderly to control elder abuse.
(Source: A report on ‘Elder abuse and Crime in India’, by HelpAge India, Qutb Institutional Area, New Delhi-110016, Ph: 41688955 (http://www.helpageindia.org/pdf/Elder_Abuse_Crime_India.pdf)