On the 9th of December 2019, in Chennai, India, 62 persons participated, representing various welfare organizations, elderly care NGOs, social activists, NGO heads, volunteers committed for the elderly care, resource faculty on elderly care etc., from different parts of Tamil Nadu, and two persons from the French organization Petits Frères des Pauvres attended a conference about the elderly care in India. The conference was also the occasion for POPE organization to explain their action for the elderly people and to launch the book Elderly Care in India.
The situation of elderly in India
As in all countries in the world, the Indian population aged, and the estimation is that 10% population is over 60 years in India. It is estimated that this figure will increase to 12.5 % in 2020 and 20% in 2030. The increase (between 10 % and 20 %) took 150 years in France. Within the next 20 years, India, Brazil and China will have 20% elders. Today, the average life span of elders in India has been increased 69.3 to 71 age.
India is the second among the world countries on the increase of elders. And a survey among 50,000 India elders show that 43% elders require counselling for their mental health problem and 80% India’s old people do not have access to even primary health care.
64% are from urban area and 36% from rural area.
Different studies, show that 40% elders are living below the poverty line. 73% are illiterated and 90 % elders are not getting any social protection scheme from the Government.
Ageing poses different challenges to the individual, families and society at large.
From the Individual point of view:
-Lack of fixed assets (bank deposit, land and house of their own),
-Failing health and gradual loos of family support,
-Emotional instability and mental depression,
-Facing neglect and loss of independence and dignity,
-Lack of affordability to health care services and not accessibly to specialized health care services.
From the Family point of view:
-Adult children may not be able or capable to take care of older parents,
-Immigrant children living away from their parents and unable to support them,
-Unable to care an elder if they have chronic diseases / Alzheimer disease,
-Insufficient employment or income to look after the aged parents,
-Taking care of an old person is costlier than other ones,
-Unable to understand the needs, problems, expectations of the aged by the younger elders.
From the Society point of view:
-Sharing the resources with many people including children, adults, elders. What share can be given to the aged is a question,
-Lack of public health system with special facilities for geriatric care,
-Non-availability of safety nets for elders.
Caring for the elderly must be everyone’s business
The society must develop ways and means to deal with these common issues paying attention to those over 80 years of age, disabled, loneliness, destitute and women.
The government alone cannot take care of all the needs of the older population.
The non-profit organization and the families must have to play an important role in this regard.
In order to mobilize and alert civil society, the POPE organization has launched the Elderly Care Movement. The objective is to sensitize the younger generations to the situation of the elderly, particularly the Dalits (also called “untouchables”) and tribal populations. POPE invites everyone to take care of the elderly and to continue to include them in society.
The POPE organization is multiplying meetings with the various social actors and citizens throughout Tanil Nadu , as in Chennai. It has the ambition to develop this movement throughout the country within the next three years.
In addition, POPE (People Organization for Planning and Education) has developed various programs for elderly people, especially for the most neglected Dalit and Tribal poor elderly people.
– Home visits by volunteers,
– Medical care,
– Food distribution,
– Mini respite stay.
The French organization Petits Frères des Pauvres, a leading association in the fight against the isolation of the elderly, has been supporting the POPE organization for more than 5 years to improve people’s lives.
Recently POPE has become a partner of the International Federation Petits Frères des Pauvres.
Photos credit: Barbara Bringuier