December 28, 2009

INDIA: Lonely and alienated

. NEW DELHI, India / The Hindustan Times / December 28, 2009 By HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times Loneliness and alienation is becoming a major problem among senior citizens, especially those living in nuclear families. As Delhi and the National Capital Region sees a huge increase in the number of nuclear families due to various reasons like migration, etc, as many as 34.3 per cent of the senior citizens living in these families said loneliness or alienation (from their families or society) was a major cause of worry for them. These are the findings of a survey conducted by Agewell Foundation, an NGO working for senior citizens, on the status of older persons in nuclear families. An overall 24.3 per cent of the older persons staying in nuclear families faced various social problems, of which loneliness was the major reason. Other reasons included less participation in family or social circles (30.76 per cent respondents) and fewer opportunities to keep them engaged, including employment (10.25 per cent). The problems also included physical and/or mental abuse by family (12.3 per cent respondents), the survey found out. The other problems faced by the elders were medical and health issues, problems related to property and financial difficulties, the survey claimed. The findings not just highlighted the problems, but also showed how most of the problems faced by the elders are inter-related. For instance, almost 51 per cent persons said they faced increased psychological problems due to loneliness. Other old age-related problems like weakness were compounded by unaffordable medicines and treatment, it said. As many as 15.5 per cent of persons living in nuclear families agreed that they had lost their peace of mind due to legal an property disputes, which also includes forged cases by relatives, court cases and safety concerns due to property ownership in old age. Calling family support for older persons as most urgent, Agewell Foundation’s Himanshu Rath said, “Timely action needs to be taken to increase the role of elders in respective families and society while sensitizing younger generations towards family system.” The survey, conducted for Delhi and NCR as part of pan-India study, interviewed about 1,000-odd persons – retired, pensioners/non-pensioners, housewives, literate/illiterate, labourers etc – during second and third week of December. [rc] © Copyright 2009 Hindustan Times