The 21st century has witnessed innovative technologies and changing lifestyles. The world is moving at a faster pace, and people are running along with it. In this run, a group of people are forgotten by the world because the generation is too busy with their works. The ones with lines of wisdom on their forehead sitting hunched in the corner of a room like snow-tipped mountains or working their way to the other room relying on a stick and their shaky legs. There are older people in most Indian households.
According to Population Census 2011, India has nearly 104 million elderly persons. Still, they feel out of place living here because the country's innovations seem to favour them less. All new technologies and mechanisms are trying to lure the younger generation into the modern world. The elderly find it difficult to operate them or get along in a technology-driven world. Forget the outside world; even the insides of their homes which should provide them with love and care, are not safe places anymore.
Abuse Of The Elderly
When a person becomes too weak to earn for the family, they are considered a burden. Sad is it when a person who has spent three-fourth of their life for the welfare of the kith and kin is suddenly considered a nuisance by them just because they are not an earning member anymore. They are being neglected at public gatherings. The worst is when people show anger and frustration on the elder ones at home. Senior citizens go through mental, emotional and physical abuse at home. Even when they are not causing any havoc outside, they can't rest peacefully even at home.
Pandemic Made Matters Worse
The pandemic had not just been a tough time for the senior citizens fighting from Covid-19. They became more vulnerable to domestic abuse than before the pandemic hit India. Pandemic has left many people jobless. Families found it hard to make ends meet. In houses, where they had to spend extra money to care for the elders, family budget planning became a huge problem. People began finding ways to get rid of the elder beings. Caregivers also started being mean to the elder ones out of the frustration that they couldn't meet their expenses during the pandemic. Increasing incidents of aged people getting beaten up have become an after effect of the pandemic induced lockdown.
HelpAge India has produced a report on the impact of Covid-19 on the elderly. As per the report, 62.1 per cent of elderly people felt that the risk of getting abused has increased during the pandemic. Disrespect was the most common abuse towards the elderly, and 23.1 per cent said they were beaten or slapped. In the cases of abuse, almost half of the abusers were sons, while 27.8 per cent of abusers were daughters-in-law. Physical abuses faced by older adults have been talked about across media. However, mental abuse and emotional trauma are hardly noticed. Elders have been mainly abused emotionally, followed by financial and physical abuse.
While looking through the lens of the elderly, they are already going through a lot of emotional troubles because they can no longer do chores on their own, they witnessed the death of many of their loved ones, they are financially dependent, they feel like their health is declining, age-related ailments are troubling them etc. Adding to this is the abuse by their family members. Even though they are fighting every day with these physical ailments, when their loved ones disrespect them, the elderly lose hope in their life and fall victim to mental illness.
India & The Elderly
India is a country rich in its culture and heritage, and Indians are always known for respecting the elderly. The Government of India offers pension schemes for the elderly. They include National Pension Scheme, Atal Pension Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana, Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme, Employee Pension Scheme and Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana. On September 28, 2021, the Indian government launched the first pan-India toll-free helpline called the 'Elder Line'. It provides free information, guidance on pension, medical and legal assistance.
Despite introducing all these schemes, the elderly in India is still suffering from different kinds of abuse. The report by HelpAge India has also thrown light on the same. This calls for more actions that can greatly relieve the elderly. This world we live in results from their efforts too, and it shouldn't be left unnoticed. Old age shouldn't be about neglect and abuse but of reminiscing the long period of existence on earth and being with a group of people who loves and cares for them.