According to the report released by non-profit HelpAge India, 42% of elderly in Mumbai say that their income is inadequate which suggests both financial planning for later years and social security needs much greater attention.
HelpAge India, on Tuesday, on the eve of UN recognised ‘World Elder Abuse Awareness Day’ released its national report ‘Bridge the Gap: Understanding Elder Needs’.
The report said that nationally 71% elders are not working, while 36% elders are willing to work and 40% of them want to work ‘as long as possible’. In Mumbai, the study finds out that 26% of Mumbai elders are willing to work even after their retirement.
In Mumbai, 72% of elderly are dependent on family, while 16% depend upon pensions and cash transfers. However, 58% of elderly say that their income is adequate, while 42% say it is inadequate. This suggests both financial planning for later years and social security needs much greater attention.
While this survey report largely reports the situation amongst the urban middle class, it only makes one question the plight of the poor urban and rural elderly, many who have no support system or adequate income or pension. HelpAge has been advocating for a Universal Pension of Rs.3000 a month, so that every elder can live life with dignity. The need to close this gap is more urgent now than ever, post the pandemic.
India is home to approximately 138 million elderly, forming nearly 10 percent of its population. The impact of COVID 19 was unprecedented and its impact on the elderly forced governments, institutions and society world over to change the frame from which the elderly are viewed. Elders were identified as the most vulnerable during the pandemic and the hardest hit.
“After the pandemic, health, income, employment and social & digital inclusion are key areas within which gaps need to be addressed to elders to live dignified lives. The family continues to play a critical role in impacting the quality of life for senior citizens. We must continue to nurture and support the family institution of caregiving,” said Prakash Borgaonkar, Head – Maharashtra & Goa, HelpAge India.
The report is based on a sample size of 4,399 elder respondents and 2,200 Young Adult Caregivers, across 22 cities in India.
Regarding family spending time with the elderly, Borgaonkar added saying, “79% elders feel that their family does not spend enough time with them. Even though, majority (82%) of elders are living with their families, 59% want their family members to spend more time with them. This shows that even after staying with family, larger percentage of elderly feel lonely. It is therefore important that younger generation should spend some qualitative time with Elders as they don’t expect anything other than their company.”
Regarding employment opportunities, 45% elderly suggested ‘Work from Home’ as the best means, 34% have asked ‘more respect be given to working elderly’ and 29% have asked for ‘increase in retirement age’ and ‘jobs exclusively for elderly’ each.
Nationally, a significant 67% elderly reported, they do not have any health insurance at this critical stage in their lives and only 13% are covered under government insurance schemes. Post Covid the need for better health protection has strongly emerged with 49% elderly expressing their aspiration for improved health, through better health insurance and better health facilities each and 42% stating there should be more support from home.
“Health Insurance is a major gap that needs to be addressed, as most senior citizens are not covered under it and it is critical that at this stage in their lives they have it, where they don’t need to dip into their savings. Elders today don’t want to be considered through the lens of sympathy and dependency only, but as active contributing members of society,” added Borgaonkar.