Challenges of Elderly and Social Work Interventions: A Study in Visakhapatnam
This article presents the information about the challenges of elderly in Visakhapatnam. It is also discussess about the activities doing by the social welfare organisations and aged peoples’ associations in Visakhapatnam. The researcher conducted a focus group discussion with 20 senior citizens and four voluntary organisations to know about the various challenges of senior citizens. The study found that the elderly are facing many problems like isolation, abuse, neglect and health problems. The government facilities are not reaching to the senior citizens. There is a lot of scope for the social work intervention with the elderly. Case work, group work, community organisation and social action will be more helpful to implement the social work activities for the welfare of the senior citizens. Social workers do the research on issues and challengers of aged. The government should appoint the health welfare volunteers to reach the senior citizen in rural and tribal areas. Maintenance and welfare of parents and senior citizens act 2007 should strictly implemented and promote the protection for the senior citizens.
Care and Protection of Aged Persons is one of the challenges in India. Aged Person means a person who has attained the age of sixty years or above is called the senior citizen/ aged/ elderly. The Government of India, Census 2011 reported that there are almost 104 million elderly persons (aged 60 years or above) are living in India. It is about 8.6 per cent of the total population of India. According to the estimations of UNDP, the number might be increased to 173 million by 2026. The census data also revealed that majority of the elders are living in rural areas than urban areas because their children migrate from rural to urban.
They leave the aged parentsin rural areas only and come once in a month and twice in a month. The life expectancy at birth in India during 2009-2013 was 69.3 years for females and it is 65.8 years for males. It is also reported that the prevalence of heart diseases stokes among elderly is high in urban areas than in rural areas. Another way it is observed that the aged persons are the dependents of their spouse, children and their relatives. It is also observed that the old age homes have been increased in the urban areas as well as in the rural areas.
Old age people have reduced the physical ability, declining mental ability, reduced their roles and responsibilities in socio-economic activities, and shifted independence to dependence for their daily expenditure. Old age is called “dark” not because the light fails to shine but because people refuse to see it. At this end stage of life, every elder person may go through a lot of changes i.e. death of loved ones, retirement, successful life events or medical problems. It is very normal to feel uneasy, stressed, or sad about these changes. The U.S. Bureau of the Census (1993) provides three subcategories of the older population: A. the young-old (65-74 years) B. The middle-old (75-84 years) C. The old-old (85 and above) (Tara Pramanik, 2017). The following diagram explains about the population growth and elderly growth in India
Figure 1.2: Decadal growth in elderly population vis-à-vis that of total population
Source: Mayank jai Report, 2016
The data in the above chart presents the information about the divergence between the growth rate of the elderly population and the general population in India. It is found that India is a largest young country and also the red line in the presents that the elders in India are also increasing. Now it is a responsibility of the government to start the welfare policies for the senior citizens. Gerontology (the study of elders) literature attempts to provide accurate and reliable information about ageing. Ageing of the population is one of the important issues faced by human societies in the present century. The population is supposed to be aged when the proportion of older persons increases with the reduction in children (child 0-14 years) and working-age population (15-59 years). The elderly who were the pillars of the traditional social system was slowly removed and they become an appendix in the family. The intergenerational support has drastically changed due to the new economic scenario.
Effects of Aging:
1. Problems in Communication
2. Problems in Physical Health
3. Hearing Problems
4. Eye problems and Visual Impairment
5. Paralysis and Heart Strokes
7. Alzheimer’s disease
8. Parkinson’s disease
9. White hair and loses hair on head
The scope of the problem
Elderly are the important population in the country with different experiences in their lives. If we observe, majority of the politicians are aged, matured and intellectuvals. They are the pillars of the traditional social system. But now a days the senior citizens who lost their power, slowly removed and they become an appendix in the family. Due to the busy schedule of their children and the family members, they are not treating well in the homes and the society. Senior Citizens are facing many problems in India. Sometimes they get help from the welfare organisations working for the senior citizens. This study is focused on to identify the type of problems facing by the senior citizen and also find the required activities for the welfare of senior citizens in Visakhapatnam
1. To study the problems and challenges of senior citizens living in Visakhapatnam city, Andhra Pradesh
2. To study the activities of the senior citizens' associations
3. To study the role of social worker in the gerontology
4. To provide appropriate suggestions for the uplift of the aged population
The researcher conducted two focus group discussions with 20 senior citizens and heads of the of the senior citizens' associations of Visakhapatnam. Based on the discussion the researcher listed out the major challenges facing by elderly in Visakhapatnam. The associations like the united forum for senior citizens, Green Vision foundation, and representatives of help age India was participated in the discussion and shared their experiences.
The major problems faced by senior citizens living in Visakhapatnam are
1. Lack of basic facilities to nearer to their houses. Nobody helps to elderly to bring the provisions for their daily food. They have to depende on relatives and the neighbours.
2. There is economic insecurity among the senior citizens. Children of senior citizens are not given the monthly money to the senior citizens due to their responsibilities. The senior citizens are also not in a position to go for work. They are also unable to sell their properties in the old age because the process of registation and other procedures are very high in India. So that they are depending on their children for their dialy food
3. Majority of the senior citizens in urban areas are isolated due to the migration of younger generations. They migrate to other towns, states, counties and come once in a month or once a year. The frequency of visiting to their parents is increases gradually. It creates isolation of the senior citizens.
4. After the loss of the spouse, they are in the depressive stage. They have more problems than other senior citizens.
5. Old age people have less knowledge in usage of technological skills like emails, what’s app, internet etc. It may be a barrier to the senior citizens to interact with the present generations
6. Exploitation by their relatives and adopted sons is another challenge for senior citizens. The relatives take property and exploite by not giving the proper food and requierments. It shows the insecurity and exploitation of the senior citizen
7. Female senior citizens are more vulnerable than male senior citizens. As we are seeing that there are many rape cases has reported in the newspapers regularly. Senior citizens may not fight with Youngers. Exploitation by own family members is very high among senior citizens.
8. Women’s health is the least priority in the families; it is nothing but a negligee. It is very high in old age women health.
9. There is relationship gap between the family members in the modern families. This influence is very high among senior citizens. Because when they are young the family relations are strong. There was a joint family system which provides the more respect for senior citizens. But nowadays it has been reduced. The relationship among family members helps them for their interaction and ventilation. There is a lack of family environment
10. According to Help Age India, there is 55 per cent of the senior citizens are in the situation of hungry. They do not have the sufficient food.
11. Majority of the senior citizens facing problems with loneliness.
12. The social taboos are still there in rural areas. The senior citizens and widowhood women have self-stigma and discriminating themselves.
13. Majority of the elderly has health problems. The health worker and ANMs may not visit the houses. They sit in a place and all the community people reach them to access the treatment. But the senior citizens may not walk to them. It means they are not accessing the government treatment facilities.
14. Due to the less support from the family members and the community, the senior citizens are losing their self-confidence and self-esteem
15. Many senior citizens are not preparing them as a senior citizen. So that they are feeling very bad about their age and time after retirement
Social Work Interventions:
There is a lot of scope to work with the aged population in the society. The major areas are
1. Provide basic facilities for the senior citizens living in rural and also urban areas by appointing the health volunteers and health workers
2. Healthcare facilities should be provided to the senior citizens of rural areas and also in urban areas.
3. The depressed senior citizens required regular compensation to share their joys and sorrows. Senior citizen associations help them for recreation and provide support in various areas like psychological, health and cultural programmes.
4. The senior citizens' associations are providing the training to senior citizens to use minimum technology to interact with their migrated children.
5. Act as a catalytic agent to make health care accessible for an ageing population.
6. Healthcare facilities should be affordable and accessible for the elderly.
7. Formation and strengthening of the grannies clubs in rural, urban and tribal areas helps them to share their joys and sorrows among eachother
8. Activating advocacy groups to access the government schemes and health insurance schemes, keeping in view the lower income groups.
9. Developing and strengthening mobile healthcare systems for sick elderly. Health on wheels programmes helps them and reaches them at their door steps.
10. Development of volunteers in the community is one of the important activities for social workers. These volunteers help the social worker by providing the information and emergency support to the aged population
11. Promote health-seeking behaviour in elderly and the family members because they can avail through “Health as a Right”.
12. Running an awareness campaign for the aged
13. Creating awareness about suitable eating habits
14. Admit the elderly in government short stay homes and further rehabilitate and integrate them in their families.
15. Organize recreational activities for the elderly
16. Mass media to play an important role in health awareness campaigns and discouraging them for negative portrayals of elderly.
17. The National Old Age Pension Scheme needs reforms in its philosophy as well as machinery. Here, the social workers may act as a bridge between government schemes and the needy, aged by creating awareness and helping them in advocacy programme related to availing this scheme.
18. Sensitizing younger generations about their responsibilities towards the elderly through the mass media, street plays, school education, and so on.
19. Running outreach units to provide services for the aged, like mobile meals, clinics, libraries, and so on.
20. Promote the implementation of law towards abuse among the aged population
21. Mainly they are faced economic problem due to loss of employment, income deficiency and economic insecurity. Another major problem is physical and physiological problems include health and medical problems, nutritional deficiency, and the problem of adequate housing etc.
22. There are many groups and structures are available in riral and urban areas. The social worker Identify and work with existing structures to promote the cooperation to the senior citizens living in rural and tribal areas. If
1. The government should increase the welfare programmes for Senior Citizens. Required separate Budget Allocation for senior citizens in Annual budgets of State and Central.
2. Now senior citizens department is included in the women development and child welfare department. Separate Directorate or Commissionarate or Ministry for senior citizens should be established to increase the welfare, service activities
3. Arrange lift, escalator facility at all public places like railway stations, bus stands, public offices etc…
4. Previously former chief minister K. Rosaiah provided a one-week free tour in RTC buses for senior citizens. The present government has stopped this scheme. The same scheme should be continued for the recreation of senior citizens
5. Build a group of old age homes at one place. It creates more recreation and interaction between the senior citizens
6. Attach street children to the senior citizens at old age homes. It is good for both of them. The lonely senior citizens may provide the guidance to street children and prepare as better citizens
7. Strictly implementation of The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 provides more effective provisions for the maintenance (includes provisions for food, clothing, residence and medical attendance and treatment) and welfare (means provisions for food, healthcare, recreation centre’s and other amenities) of Parents and Senior Citizens. In this concern, the children include son, daughter, grandson and granddaughter but do not include a minor.
8. The State Government may establish and maintain the number of old age homes at accessible places, as it may deem necessary, in a phased manner, beginning with at least one in each district to accommodate in such homes a minimum of one hundred fifty senior citizens who are indigent.
9. Senior citizens associations are also advocating the issues of senior citizens. They provide legal support for them.
10. The associations are implementing 15 health clinics and 10 mobile clinics to help senior citizens in their localities.
11. Younger generations to provide the support to at least one senior citizen nearby their house by providing the moral support and providing the timely support. The young generations should interact with at least one senior citizen that reduces the loneliness among senior citizens
12. Uses of Magic words like Deerga Sumangali bhava by the senior citizen particularly mother in law. These words should increase the relationship between both of them.
13. Regular Family meetings decrease the gap between the family members
14. Teach the children to give the respect to senior citizens
All the social work methods like case work, group work, community organisation and social action will be helpful to provide the services to the aged population. The social workers should increase the research on different issues of senior citizens and promote the social welfare administration by building the network with the government and non-governmental organisations. The social work course should start a specialisation to work with elderly. However, research and practice experience leads us to conclude that social workers with older people require a strong foundation of the core, generic social work skills and values, on which specialist knowledge and skills can build.
According to the latest data released by the Election Commission of India, there are nearly 10.774 crore senior citizens (elderly persons above 60 years) in India, including about 55 million females and 52 million males. The government had started a scheme for deposits of senior citizens at a rate of 9.20 per cent but from July 2014 it was reduced to 8.3 per cent; with a max cap of Rs 15 lakh. This needs to be corrected and the rate revised to at least 12 per cent equal to the one granted to persons entitled to terminal benefits in employment. The prime minister, himself being a senior citizen, one hopes will understand the plight of nearly 11 per cent of this of his fraternity better and consider the suggestions shared above to ameliorate their weakening financial condition without delay.
The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment too should look into these gaps and ensure equitable treatment of the senior citizen population of the country to ensure they are no longer subjected to any such inequalities and discrimination. They too deserve to live a dignified and secure life, without depending on other sections of the society.
It may be concluded by saying that the degeneration of the joint family system dislocates the familial bonds and loss of respect to the aged person. The family in modern times should not be thought to be a secure place for aged parents. Even though, the State Government, take all measures for publicity, awareness, etc. for welfare of senior citizens under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 in order to create awareness of rights of parents and senior citizens and obligations of children’s/legal heirs, major number of the children’s parents conscious not allowed to make complaints against their children’s, because they wouldn’t be causing problems with their children’s, always they want and with the children’s life should be prosperous even though they are not in a safe position. The attitude of the senior citizens should be changed when the children are not providing the proper care. They have to come forward to give a complaint at the right place. That time we can see the good families and welfare for senior sitizens.
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Received on 23.07.2018 Modified on 02.08.2018
Accepted on 05.09.2018 ©AandV Publications All right reserved