Barinder Saluja, Chandigarh, Sept. 30 : On the eve on International Day of Older Persons or World Elders Day as many call it, Help Age India released a first-of-its-kind “Economic & Health Survey on India’s Oldest Old (80 +)”. City Mayor Ms. Anu Chatrath released the survey report book on 80+ people and urged her desire to help the Older in whatever way she could. She also said that these senior most citizens of our country are our path englighters and one should not forget those who taught us how to speak & walk.
Mr Bhavneshwar Sharma, State Manager, Help Age India informed that India has an 80 plus population of more than 80 lakh, out of which 20,22,345 live in urban areas (Census 2001). According to the NSS (National Sample Survey) 63 percent of the elderly are illiterate in India. This is likely to have a bearing on their economic activities. Poverty and loneliness further add to the problem rendering them even more vulnerable. About 60 percent of the elderly live in the developing world, and this will rise to 70 percent by 2010.
With increasing age the needs of the elderly, especially health needs, often puts pressure on their source of finances. The National Policy on Older Persons (1999) has also clearly stressed on the high priority to be given to Elder health care needs. To understand these complexities in a more in-depth manner, this special survey targeting the 80 plus was conducted by Help Age India, a charity working for the elderly. The survey focuses on their Economic Condition & Health Aspects and also looks at need, care and access to Govt. health schemes & health insurance.
As per the Survey 57% of the Oldest Old were widows/widower. More than two third of the oldest old are financially dependent on others (72%). Son being the topmost on whom they are dependent on (79%). 36% of the oldest old have a monthly household income of less than Rs.2,500. Only 12 % are engaged in any
economic activity. More than 70% of the Oldest Old don’t own any property. Majority of the elderly covered in the survey were illiterate. Remittance from children is their main source of income.
Most of the Oldest Old with common ailments preferred going to a Private Doctor / Clinics (23%) as against a PHC which was only about 12%. 80% if the elderly felt there was no support system at the Community level.
Awareness levels of Govt. schemes and Health Insurance schemes was extremely low, with only 12% aware of any Government Health Related Welfare schemes and 23% aware of any Health Insurance schemes, of which only 5% are covered under any Health Insurance scheme. Only 5% were aware of the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana.
“Through the release of this Survey Help Age India hopes that measures be looked into for providing incentives to the families of the Oldest Old on whom they seem to be most dependent on, and subsidized health care be available for the elders”, said Mr. Kapil Kaul, Country Head (Advocacy, Resource & Communications) Help Age India.