CHENNAI:There are over 70 million elderly people living in India today, if WHO reports are to be believed the number will be hitting a 177 million in 25 years. While on one hand this is good news, in terms of health and medical advancement, on the other, senior citizens in the city believe that this means more isolation. “All that a person needs when he or she grows old is companionship. With nuclear families, more number of old people will face hardships,” says Dr V S Natarajan, Geriatric Physician at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital, while addressing the 36th Annual General Meeting and Conference of Pensioners, at Alamelumanga Kalyana Mandapam on Friday. He adds that once the problem of generation gap gets addressed all the problems the 27.5 per cent elderly population in the State face will get over. “Old age was never looked at as a problem in our country, especially when we had the joint family system. But today while everyone wants to go outside and earn more money, elders in their family have started feeling as a burden. This is not good.” Lack of emotional support, neglect and a feeling of burden are the three main causes for loneliness, which culminates into a disease. “When older couples are asked to live separately from their children makes it worse,’ says Dr Prithika Chary, neurologist and neuro surgeon at Kauveri Hospital. “Some stay in their houses and refuse to leave. Their children leave them alone. They make it a point to provide monetary support, but that is just not enough,” she adds. Section 19 (1) of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act mandates that every State Government must establish and maintain at least one old age homes in each district to accommodate a minimum of 150 senior citizens, who are indigent. While TN has 27 old age homes, Dr Natarajan feels that lot needs to be done. “A home must have access to basic amenities, which is usually missing, and these homes must have a happy atmosphere. Only then would they feel at peace,” he adds.