States should tone up public health system, elders neglected: Study

Published: 11th February 2013 09:44 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th February 2013 09:44 AM   |  A+A-

Thirteen per cent men above 80 years are left with no choice but to work to support themselves, pointed out a United Nations Population Fund Report on the Status of Elderly in Select States in India, 2011.

A majority of these 80-plus men are in the BPL category of SC/ST communities.

Head of the Population Research Centre, Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bangalore, Prof K S James, who was a part of the research team, said: “These men above 80 years are left with no choice but to work to meet their daily expenditure like food.” Most of them are engaged in unskilled jobs in the unorganised sector, which pays the bare minimum. They work for at least six months a year or whenever work is available, he added.

This primary survey was carried out in Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal  have more than eight per cent elderly population. The survey also found that 10 per cent elderly women in these states live alone.

In Tamil Nadu, 17 per cent elderly men and women live alone, which is quite alarming and needs further analysis, observed Prof Lekha Subaiya, of ISEC, who carried out a part of the study. She also attributed that the possible reasons for them living alone could be childlessness or neglect by children.  The report also highlights that 49 per cent of the elderly are suffering from some kind of psychological distress.

Prof T S Syamala of ISEC, who analysed this data from her study, said: “This data clearly points that states should tone up their public health system and move from just treating physical ill health to holistic mental well-being.”

The study was undertaken by UNFPA in collaboration with the Population Research Centre (PRC), Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC), Institute of Economic Growth and Tata Institute of Social Sciences as a part of their on going research project - Building a Knowledge Base on Population Ageing in India.

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