Monday, 24 August 2015

Why they retire hurt?





 As per the 2011 census, there are 103 million senior citizens in India. Which means India’s elderly is more than the combined population of Germany and Netherlands. Yet, they complain that they are an ignored lot. The country is richer, medical facilities have improved thereby increasing the life expectancy, but even then life is tough for a majority of senior citizens.....

Men and women work hard for their family and try to give the best to their children in terms of lifestyle, food and education. But once they reach 60 years they retire with a feeling that since they have played their role positively, can now lead a peaceful retired life. But many of them retire hurt because of the same near and dear ones for whom they sacrificed so much to give them the best in life. Sometimes they are left alone and abused too during their twilight years.

As per the 2011 census, there are 103 million senior citizens in India. Which means India’s elderly is more than the combined population of Germany and Netherlands. Yet, they complain that they are an ignored lot. The country is richer, medical facilities have improved thereby increasing the life expectancy, but even then life is tough for a majority of senior citizens.

For its concessions and pensions, the government recognizes anyone over 65 years of age as a senior citizen, but groups like the Federation of Senior Citizens Organisation have asked that people over 60 – the retirement age in government services – should be included in the category.


According to various surveys conducted by HelpAge India, 324 million will be above the age of 60 by 2050 (20% of the population) and 48 million people over the age of 80 by 2050. India spends only 0.032% of the GDP on Pensions. And pensions cover only 25% of the elderly. Nearly 71% of the very old – those above 80 years are dependent on others. Life expectancy has increased to 69.6 years in 2010-15 compared to 42 years in 1960. 4-5% of the citizens live alone by choice. 73% live in rural areas or semi-urban areas. 53% of senior citizens are widows and 39% live alone.

In 2014, the number of elders who reported abuse went up from 23% in the previous year to 50%. This could be because of more senior citizens coming out in the open to report abuse. The most common types of abuse – 41% complained of verbal abuse, 33% complained of disrespect and 29% complained of neglect by their near and dear ones. The top perpetrators in the family are, 61% is the daughter-in-law and 59% is the son. It has been found that the main reasons for abuse being, 46% economic dependence on the abuser and 45% emotional dependence on the abuser.

And things are often worse for them in big metropolis like Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkatta where life is fast-paced and people do not know much about even their neighbours. Yet, despite their huge numbers, senior citizens as a community, do not get the attention and help they deserve. Another factor being in cities with preference for nuclear families, push the elderly parents to their native ancestral homes in towns and villages or old age homes.

At the same time, some senior citizens prefer to be busy and are travelling, they are enjoying longer and healthier lives. It is said, now the 60s are the new 40s. According to the Federation representing senior citizens association in the country, 3 out of 4 live in poverty or depression. At the same time senior citizens can’t be taken lightly. I remember a politician telling – never take the senior citizens lightly on any issue. They have the patience and the time, most importantly have the experience. They can land you in trouble!

Generally people retire at 60 years. They have skills and knowledge that the community can benefit from. And since life expectancy is increasing, they live to be 80 to 85 and even over 90 years. So the question is – what are they going to do with their lives after retirement? A senior citizen stated – After you retire, don’t think you are retired and just sit at home; be active and engage yourself in other activities like music, reading, writing, helping the community by joining a NGO. This will make you feel young, energetic and healthy. Today’s senior citizens are assertive and willing to participate in anything good for the society.

I request the younger generation to respect them and make them feel wanted. They have a wealth of experience to share. Don’t ever allow them to retire hurt. Tomorrow when you grow old, you might face the same and regret your actions. Involve the senior citizens in your family matters, they could guide you towards a better life and happiness.









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Shiva temple at Somnath,Gujarat, India
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