As per the Population Census 2011 there are nearly 104 million older adults (aged 60 years or above) in India, of which 53 million are females and 51 million males. A report released by the United Nations Population Fund and HelpAge India also suggests that the number of elderly in the country is expected to grow to 173 million by 2026. Globally it is estimated that the senior population would outnumber the youth as well as children (under 10). The increase in this population, in fact, is said to be one of the most significant social transformations of the 21st century.
International Day for Older Persons (IDOP)
Older adults have immensely contributed to the society as skilled individuals, caretakers and custodians of cultural virtues. To recognize their contribution and raise awareness on their struggles, United Nations signed and voted October 1 as International Day for Older Persons in 1991. And since then, this day is celebrated across the world with enthusiasm in line with different themes to sensitize people about the love and care needed for older adults.
The Journey of Age Equality
2019 theme for celebrating International Day for Older Persons, decided by the United Nations is ‘The Journey of Age Equality.’ It is in line with the UN’s 2030’s agenda and ‘Sustainable Development Goals’, which stresses on the fact that development is achievable only when all ages are included. It also helps in empowering the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, race, disability, ethnicity, religion, origin, or economic status.
Elderly, often face challenges in terms of negligence and lack of provisions, due to several factors like age, gender, retirement, financial conditions, lack of government benefits/awareness, and even abuse. A lot of them are left to fend for themselves post their retirement without sufficient health and financial benefits, leading to misery, exclusion and loneliness. The dearth of opportunities for the experienced generation further deteriorates the economic growth and social structure of the society. Hence, to address these consequential issues, the theme – The Journey of Age Equality raises attention to the benefits of age equality.
Key Goals of International Day for Older Persons 2019
As stated by United Nations, the key objectives for this year’s theme would be:
- To raise awareness on the existence of old age inequality, and how this often results from an accumulation of disadvantages throughout life and highlight the inter-generational risk of increased old-age inequality.
- To draw attention to the urgency of dealing with existing and preventing future old-age inequality.
- To explore societal and structural changes in view of life course policies: life-long learning, proactive and adaptive labour policies, social protection and universal health coverage.
- To reflect on best practice, lessons and progress on the journey to ending older age inequality and changing negative narratives and stereotypes involving “older age”.
How is India Contributing to this Mission
In agreement with the above goals, here’s how India is contributing to the sub-themes of The Journey of Age Equality.
The care sector-as a contributor of decent work
A huge part of caring for older adults include not only meeting their medical requirements but also emotional. According to a 2018 report, 82% of the elderly abused, never report it. The forms of abuse range from negligence, abandonment to financial stress, violation of human rights and more. However, an organization in India is working to make a change for the last 41 years. HelpAge India is a non-profit organization that assists the elderly in need by providing counseling as well as by taking care of them when they are abused or abandoned. With their huge network for senior welfare and mobile medical facility, they have done substantial work in reaching not only urban but remote rural locations to care for older adults. Read more about HelpAge here.
Lifelong learning and proactive and adaptive labour policies
Over the years, the Indian government has launched multiple policies and schemes to assist the elderly population. The aim is to provide support and encourage independence, health and well-being of older adults. These schemes support them in various walks of life like medical health, helping them in planning their pension and helping them improve their quality of life. Read more about the policies and programs for older adults here.
Programme of the NGO Committee on Intergenerational Solidarity
With technology becoming the central part of our day-to-day lives, it has become the need of the hour for all to help older adults adapt to the digital life. It can help in promoting intergenerational solidarity. Founded in 2014, Saathi Haath Badhana is one such NGO that is empowering senior citizens to be digitally independent. They have started the ‘Technology for Seniors’ program where the young volunteers help older adults familiarize themselves with the various aspects of gadgets and technology, in which smartphone assistance is one useful series. From booking cabs for daily commute to paying their bills online, older adults associated with the NGO are upgrading their technical skills by manifolds. Read more about Saathi Haath Badhana here.
Older Entrepreneurs are Helping to Shape the Tech Landscape
A lot of older adults in India are putting their experience to good use, shaping the technology landscape well. One such wise gentleman is D Suresh, popularly known as Solar Suresh. He did his Mechanical Engineering from IIT, Madras in 1967 and PG from IIM, Ahmadabad in 1970. Having worked for 15 years in the corporate sector and 20 years in the textile industry, Suresh later took his entrepreneurial plunge to find SAKS Ancillaries Ltd, post which he entered in the telecommunication industry with other entrepreneurial venture in the ‘Last-Mile Connectivity Space’. After retirement, he installed 6 renewable energy plants. Today Suresh only uses solar power to create electricity and encourages others to make life more sustainable. Read more about Solar Suresh here.
End Immunization Inequality Toward Healthy Aging
Just like children, seniors also require immunization to strengthen their immunity. However, immunization for older adults is not a very popular concept in the country. It is high time that awareness is raised on the subject. There are 5 types of immunizations available for elderly that can prevent them from 14 deadly diseases. Read more about elderly vaccinations here.
This International Day for Older Persons, understand how you can contribute in the journey of aging equality. Tell us in comments about your views on aging equality and what other objectives related to elderly welfare should be taken into consideration.
Also Read: What is Preventive Geriatrics?
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