October 2, 2010

INDIA: Four of every five elderly dependent on themselves during sickness

CHENNAI, Tamil Nadu / The HINDU / October 2, 2010

Call for free healthcare, food for the elderly

Staff Reporter

The International Day of the Older Persons observed on Friday was yet another occasion for the elderly in the city to seek their right to financial, legal and social protection from the State government. This year's theme was ‘Older Persons and the Achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.'

HelpAge India's recent survey on the economic and health conditions of those aged above 80 in Chennai shows that 78 per cent have poor or very poor health conditions.

Madras High Court Judge P.Jyothimani present gift to winners of the grandpa and grandma competition held as part of World Elders Day by HelpAge India, in Chennai on Friday. Actor Devayani is in the picture. Photo: S. Thanthoni
Body pain, hypertension, arthritis and diabetes are some of the major health problems the group faces.

The study, which covered nearly 900 people, also says that 81 per cent of the oldest old are dependent on themselves at the time of sickness.

According to D. Rajasekharan, president of the Federation of Senior Citizens Association of Tamil Nadu, the State policy on older persons, though drafted, was yet to be announced.

“The policy talks about the welfare measures the senior citizens are entitled to, which covers healthcare, insurance and increase in the old age pension.”

Free healthcare, food, medicines, clothes and some cash in hand are some of the recommendations the oldest old need to be provided, says Indrani Rajadurai, Special Adviser, HelpAge India. ‘Healthy Ageing' was the theme at HelpAge India's World Elders Day celebrations in which speakers imparted advice to the senior citizens who had come from 30 NGOs.

Group dance and Super Grandma and Super Grandpa competition marked the celebrations of HelpAge India here, in which several school and college students volunteered.

Chennai Police's initiative to remove all inhibitions the elderly have about walking to a police station received good response. According to Shakeel Akhter, Additional Commissioner of Police (Law and Order), the day was dedicated to sending across the message that the police were here to serve the elderly.

He said police districts such as T. Nagar, Elephant Gate, Vepery, Ashok Nagar and Pulianthope received many visitors.

Srinivasa Moorthy, 71, enthralled the audience with his Bharatanatyam attire and performance at an event organised by the Department of Social Work of Stella Maris College and Senior Citizens Bureau. ‘Productive Ageing' and awards of excellence were presented to senior citizens.

Tamil Nadu Senior Citizens' Association and Federation of Women's Association of Tamil Nadu were among other organisations that celebrated the World Elders Day.

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