- The United Nations marks October 1 as International Day for Older Persons, as part of the organisation’s efforts to draw attention to healthy ageing.
- Recently, a report by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), “World Population Prospects 2022”, has projected big shifts in global demographic patterns in the coming decades.
- As per the report:
- 16% of the world population by 2050 is expected to be made up of people over 65 years.
- India’s population will be 7(one point seven)billion by 2050, having overtaken China to be the world’s most populous country.
- Eight countries — India is among them — will account for more than half of the world’s increasing population by 2050.
Composition of the world population
- Between 1950 and 2010, life expectancy worldwide rose from 46 to 68 years. Globally, there were 703 million persons aged 65 or over in 2019.
- The region of Eastern and South-Eastern Asia was home to the largest number of older persons, followed by Europe and Northern America.
- Over the next three decades, the number of older persons worldwide is projected to more than double, reaching more than 1.5 billion persons in 2050.
- All regions will see an increase in the size of the older population between 2019 and 2050. The largest increase is projected to occur in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia.
What are the issues involved?
- This demographic change will have a profound impact on its health systems.The prevalence of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, or disabilities related to vision, hearing or mobility is higher among the elderly.
- The change in demographic structure will increase the pressure on public health systems that are not geared to deliver universal health care along with social security measures such as old-age and disability pensions.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities, with the past three years intensifying the socioeconomic, environmental, health and climate related impacts on the lives of older persons, especially older women who constitute the majority of older persons.
- The Indian economy still needs to mitigate the fiscal costs that arise from a rising old-age dependency ratio.
Eye care and elderly health
- People with impaired vision had a greater fear, and risk, of falling (a major cause of disability and hospitalisation among the elderly). This reduced their movement and independence, leading to depression.
- The way forward can be a package of interventions, including assistive devices for sight, hearing, and mobility, or referrals to psychiatric support for depression or other mental health issues.
- Eye health in India has many cross-subsidy models to help alleviate the financial burden on individuals.
- The future of elderly care needs to be long term, comprehensive, and integrated, and must be oriented towards primary care to be accessible.
Need to protect the elderly population
- Older people have a wealth of skills and experiences. They contribute on a macro level to the workplace and financially and at a local level to their communities and individual networks in terms of experience.
- They can provide a vital generational link for the upcoming generation, such as providing support and stability to families and society at large.
- They help in transferring values and morals to the younger generation. Thereby contributing towards bringing up better human beings and responsible citizens.
- Many older people also contribute to the economy informally – by caring for their grandchildren or other family members.
Schemes for the welfare of elerdy people
- The Government of India is implementing various schemes and programmes to provide healthy, happy, empowered, dignified and self-reliant life to senior citizens, along with strong social and inter-generational bonding.
- Atal Vayo Abhyudaya Yojana (AVYAY): It is a Central Sector Scheme under the Department of Social Justice and Empowerment. AVYAY brings together articulation of each of the current schemes, future plans, strategies and targets and maps it with schemes/programmes, accountabilities, financials and clear outcomes. This Plan takes care of the top four needs of the senior citizens viz financial security, food, health care and human interaction /life of dignity.
- It has the schemes under it, namely: 1. Integrated Programme for Senior Citizens (IPSrC), 2. State Action Plan for Senior Citizens (SAPSrC), 3. Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana(RVY), 4. Senior Able Citizens for Re-employment in Dignity(SACRED), 5. Action Groups Aimed at Social Reconstruction (AGRASR), 6. Senior-care Aging Growth Engine (SAGE)-Silver economy for Senior Citizens, 7. Elderline – National Helpline for Senior Citizens, 8. Channelizing the CSR fund for elderly care.
- National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP): Under the Ministry of Rural Development, under this the elderly, widows, and disabled persons belonging to Below Poverty Line (BPL) and fulfilling eligibility criteria prescribed in the NSAP guidelines, are provided financial assistance ranging from Rs.200/- to Rs.500/- p.m. and in the case of death of the breadwinner, a lumpsum assistance of Rs.20,000/- is given to the bereaved family.
- National Programme for the Health Care of Elderly (NPHCE): Launched during 2010-11 is State oriented program with the basic thrust to provide comprehensive and dedicated health care facilities to the elderly persons above 60 year of age at various levels of primary, secondary and tertiary health care.
International Day for Older Persons