The Vice President of India, M. Venkaiah Naidu today called for providing special care and support to the elderly in the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic. Highlighting the higher degree of risk faced by the older people in health emergencies like this, he also advised the youngsters and other family members to take extra precautions related to COVID-19 if there are elderly members at home.
In a facebook posts today on the ‘issues pertaining to the elderly population in India’, the Vice President said that seldom, one finds a separate geriatric department in District Hospitals to look after the old age health issues.
In view of the frequent health related problems faced by the elderly, he emphasised the need to reorient our health system to address the specific needs of the geriatric population, including insurance coverage.
The Vice President also called for providing the elderly an easy and barrier- free access to public places. Our cities and the facilities within them should be accessible to the elderly, he said.
Mentioning various schemes for the welfare of senior citizens, Naidu said that despite these government policies and programs, we still see the senior citizens facing lot of hassles in accessing various services.
Many a time, the elderly are made to stand for a long time in banks, public offices and in buses and trains, he rued and said “this attitude goes against the grain of our 5000 years old civilisation that prides itself in icons such as Lord Rama and Shravan Kumar”.
In this regard, he expressed the need to focus on creating awareness and sensitizing the government officials and the public at large on issues pertaining to the elderly. He also called for a robust grievance redress mechanism to resolve issues faced by them.
Calling the senior citizens as the repository of knowledge and wisdom, the Vice President stressed that they deserve to be treated with respect, affection, care and dignity during the twilight years of their lives.
“It is the sacred duty of everyone, including the youngsters to take care of the elders”, he said.
Referring to a recent report on the status of ‘Elderly Population in India’ brought out by the Indian Association of Parliamentarians on Population and Development, Naidu highlighted the fact that there are over 10 crore people in 60+ age group and their numbers are increasing at a faster pace than the population in general.
The report suggests that by 2050, elderly population will make 20 per cent of India’s population. It also says that a large proportion of elderly in India are living alone or are dependent on their children… and there is a certain degree of abuse faced by many of them.
Report also brings out the fact that issues related to the elderly get less attention in general as only a few questions were raised by the Parliamentarians on the issues of aging.
Naidu expressed satisfaction over the increase in life expectancy due to modern medicine, but t the same time he also cautioned about the various problems faced by the elderly like lack of financial and emotional support.
Expressing anguish over the instances of neglect, abandonment and abuse of the elderly, he said that the way a society treats its senior citizens is a reflection of its culture and ethos.
Referring to the puranic tale of Lord Ganesh who circled around his parents equating them with the whole world, the Vice President said that respect for parents and elderly is an important lesson today’s generation can learn from Lord Ganesh.
Highlighting the reverence given to parents in Indian culture and society, he said when we do Charan Sparsh or touch the feet of the elders, we are acknowledging and respecting their affection, knowledge and experience.
He quoted an ancient saying- ‘by serving the elderly with devotion, one is blessed with long life, fame and strength’ and asked the youth to take inspiration from such ennobling thoughts.
Drawing attention to the phenomenon of elders’ home for senior citizens Naidu said this not only highlights the changes in the society but is also a sad reflection of declining family values.
Is our society losing its moral compass, he asked and emphasised the need to reaffirm our faith in our age-old joint family system.
Bringing to fore the inherent social security in a joint family, the Vice President said the children of the family develop strong emotional bond with their grandparents. There is a kind of symbiosis that holds joint families together in comfort and security, he added.
“When we talk of peace and cohesiveness in society, we must understand that family is the fundamental unit to promote inter-generational bonding through respect and amity”, he said.
Maintaining that it is the collective attitude of the society as a whole that matters the most, the Vice President underlined the need to impart right values to the children and youth to ensure that the elders lead a comfortable, happy and satisfying life in their twilight years.