The number of elderly people (age of the population with 60 years and over) is around 120 million, making it one of the largest subsets of the population. Besides the policy, the country also has a comprehensive legal framework known as the âParent and Elderly Maintenance and Welfare Act 2007â. The main objective of the law is to provide effective remedies for the maintenance, support and well-being of parents and the elderly. However, the problem persists on the ground.
Much has been said about elder abuse in our country. A recent annual survey by HelpAge India highlights the grim reality of around two-thirds of older people suffering from some form of abuse. It can take many forms like physical / mental / emotional abuse, financial abuse, abandonment, among others. Most unfortunate is that in many cases the people who abuse them are the very people who are supposed to be caring for the elderly. At home, the maximum number of reported abuse cases is by step-sons and daughters-in-law. In cases where the elderly remain alone in homes for the aged, the abuse is perpetrated by the caretakers or managers of these shelters. We are also seeing a number of abuses by external parties such as lenders, insurance agents, property dealers, among others.
In the period of approximately 9 months since the undersigned began writing this column for the elderly, many such cases have come to his attention through letters / communications received from elderly people all over the world. the country. In today’s article, we’ll talk about 2-3 of these cases and look at the seriousness of the problem.
Case one (1) – Elder abuse: The undersigned received a message from a student in Assam preparing for the civil service exam that she witnessed an elderly woman being physically assaulted by her son and daughter-in-law. They don’t allow him to meet someone from the outside. His cell phone was also ripped off. She (the complainant) had gone to the local police station; however, the police response was that they wanted to meet her and nothing happened after that. She asked if any help could be provided to her.
On average, we get 1 phone call per fortnight about elder abuse in different parts of the country. These complaints are not made by elderly people but by sympathizers staying nearby.
Second case (2) – Financial distress due to fraud:
This case concerns one of our own members (My Retired Life Foundation) who is 80 years old. His wife is 70 years old and is bedridden. Person is from Kerala but has been in Mumbai for 50 years. They wanted to spend their old age in Kerala and therefore booked a Vila in Kerala by paying an advance of Rs 30 lakes in 2010 and completed all the legal formalities. The builder had to return possession within 6 months or pay interest in the event of default. But the builder failed on both counts and ultimately the case was filed with the Kerala State Consumer Recovery Commission in 2012, which was decided in favor of our member in 2015. Nothing successful is unsuccessful. has occurred (other than the reimbursement of a very small amount, the temporary arrest and subsequent release of the Promoter) to this day despite the petition to various high political dignitaries at the state and government levels. central government and also on appeal to the judiciary. All money paid so far plus accrued interest seems to be wasted for an elderly person.
Case three (3) – Work related issues:
Message received from an elderly lady approaching senior citizenship (age around 55) of Jaipur. She had worked for a 5 star hotel for over 25 years. She lost her job 6 months ago when the hotel was sold to another party because they didn’t want to keep old employees. She tried to find a new job because she is the breadwinner of the family, but to no avail due to her age despite her good physical shape and good communication skills.
The undersigned has received several messages from this type of elderly people looking for a job because they have to take care of their families.
The underlying denominator of the 3 cases above is that older people face different types of issues / problems unique to the country. As older people find it difficult to move or lack the physical / mental strength to fight or lack the financial resources, many of them go unreported. Even the reported cases are not handled properly at different levels: family or bureaucratic or police or judicial. The result is sometimes a long, winding journey with perhaps no end in sight. This despite the existence of a policy, a legal framework and a large chain of NGOs operating in this space.
We immediately suggest the following steps to take care of the interest of the elderly:
1. The government of India and state governments should have a Separate ministry dedicated to seniors / elderly. This is the starting point for positive change.
2. There should be a mass campaign by the government to spread knowledge of the provisions of The maintenance and well-being of parents and Older Persons Act 2007 because it is still not known to many older people, especially in rural and semi-urban areas.
3. A certain reservation amount (say 10 percent) should be created for jobs for older people (who are able to work between the ages of 60 and 75) in both the public and private sectors.
4. The monthly pension of seniors should be increased from the current amount of Rs 200 / – minimum Rs 3,000 / –.
5. All seniors must benefit from social security in terms of minimum health coverage of Rs 5.00 lakes per year.
6. Each country’s police station must have a dedicated cell examine complaints relating to the elderly.
7. Abuse of an elderly person of any kind should be considered a Criminal ICC offense.
8. NGOs and civil society must be more active towards the needs and complaints of the elderly.
These are minimum steps that should be taken to improve the condition of the elderly. The least expectation of society is that the elderly are allowed to live in dignity, independence and satisfaction. All of us, as citizens as well as at the government level, must meet the minimum aspiration of the elderly who have devoted a number of years of their lives to others.
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Posted on: Saturday December 11, 2021 13:23 IST