“Older persons make wide-ranging contributions to economic and social development. However, discrimination and social exclusion persist. We must overcome this bias in order to ensure a socially and economically active, secure and healthy ageing population.” -Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General, United Nations
On 14 December, 1990, the United Nations General Assembly stated 1st October as the International Day for Elderly and since then it is celebrated on the designated day. This day has its own significance for throwing light and emphasis on the importance of senior citizens who are mostly not paid heed to due to ageing. The objective of this day is to remind us of our responsibilities towards our elder so that they too live a happy life. It also emphasizes on creating awareness about their importance and appreciating their contribution towards society.
Every year this day is celebrated with different themes: The theme for 2020 is ‘Pandemics: Do They Change How We Address Age and Ageing?’
The theme aims to:
- Inform participants about the strategic objectives for the Decade of Healthy Ageing.
- Raise awareness of the special health needs of older persons and of their contributions to their own health and to the functioning of the societies in which they live.
- Increase awareness and appreciation of the role of the health care workforce in maintaining and improving the health of older persons, with special attention to the nursing profession
- Present proposals for reducing the health disparities between older persons in the developed and developing countries, so as to “Leave no one behind”.
- Increase understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on older persons and its impact on health care policy, planning, and attitudes.
India has been named as the ageing country by the UN, for its enormous number of old people. Statistics say that by the end of 2050, the number will have tripled and may constitute 20% of the Indian Population.
As per research and information by dadadai.org, it is said that India is home to more than 728 old age homes, out of which we have information on just 547 homes. Among those 547, 325 homes do not charge for staying or availing the service whereas 95 homes incur charges in order to have a stay. Around 116 homes have both the facilities and 11 homes have no information as of now. It is said that there are around 278 old age homes that are available for the sick people and keeping in mind the women, 101 homes are exclusively made for them. In India, Kerala has the maximum numbers with 124 old age homes.
As people start ageing they tend to suffer from several diseases (especially chronic & diabetes) and physical disabilities that affect their independent lifestyle, as a result of which they start relying on others to help them. This should not be taken as a problem, but rather as a responsibility and should not start neglecting them.
We as youngsters often cherish the memories we have with our parents, grandparents or any elderly person. Starting from the bedtime stories narrated by them, to the small walks in the park or the neighbourhood, they nourished us with every bit of love and care possible. We are so engrossed in our daily activities these days that we have almost forgotten what we used to have earlier- quality family time. We but this pandemic has surely helped us all reunite and revive that bond with the members and especially with the elderly. People locked down in their houses, started spending time with their elder family members. They felt loved, they relished the moments and these small gestures of ours are all that they want. Hence it is our responsibility to provide them with long term care and thus help them in healthy and happy ageing.
Let us all take a moment to appraise and thank those elderly, who despite of this pandemic have adapted themselves to this situation of going online with technologies in spite of their ageing, to ensure that we the younger generations are not deprived of our education and knowledge imparting. They never fail to lend us a helping hand, but in return what they are sadly entitled to is Old Age Homes. The elderly never left us alone in this world when we were young, guided & supported us throughout, but imagine if we were sent to child care homes or orphanages in our childhood. Well, we as individuals should start realising the importance of elders in our family and the values they bring into our lives. Therefore rather than sending them to the Old Age Homes, we should always keep them as close to us always, because they are the greatest source of knowledge, a treasure of experiences in our life.
We should remember the phrase ‘’As you sow, so shall you reap’’ and take proper care & respect the elderly of our family, because life is a continuous changing process, and we too shall be there someday.