Census 2011, shows that 104 million population of India are in the age group of 60 years and above out of which 53 million are female and 51 million are male. As per the study published jointly be United Nations Population Fund and Helpage India, Indian elderly population, 60 years and above, are expected to reach 173 million by 2026. As published in Economic Times, April, 2019, as per study done by United Nations, by end of 2050 India’s elderly population is projected to reach 20 % of total population. The human beings are blessed to live longer by nature than ever before.
The CORONA VIRUS out break in December, 2019 has disrupted many things in this world, the lives, way we live, the economy, the business, the education, science, health care and many more sectors and the alternative methods or solutions are slowly evolving. Some disruptions are natural and some have been done, while following the safety guidelines to save ourselves from the Pandemic. But those disruptions have slowly changed the natural behaviour of human being towards certain things / incidents / people etc and changed the way we look at them.
The safety guidelines were mostly based on social distancing, quarantine, isolation etc., while, in this country we are proud of joint hindu family, community thinking to live together and work together for benefit of mass. The whole Indian Culture is based on the principle of Universal Happiness. ” Basudheya Kutumbakam”.
Arthasastra, one of the oldest Sastra on economics and management, written by Chanakya, during Gupta Dynasty, referred as golden age of India, starts with Realisation of Happiness. The First Sutra is “Sukhasya Moolam Dharmah”. Where he says the basis of existence is Happiness and for getting happiness, one should practise Ethical Behaviour, which is Universal. And second in Dharmasya Moolam Artha. He says, a person can practice ethical behaviour in abundance. Third is Money can be earned through Organisation and forth is organisations can be built up only with self discipline, self control or sacrificing self. Fifth one is only a person can conquer over his or her material aspiration, only through cultivation of Humility.
The sixth Sutra is “Binayasya Moolam Vruddhopaseva”. Moral training and enrichment comes through serving elders. In India, the teachers were transferring the knowledge of generation to the students, who were found worthy of it by the teacher. The person who devotes himself or herself for acquiring knowledge from the world, they go to the Vidwaan or elders to get knowledge. So elders have the supreme respectful place in Indian Community. The basic principle of an Indian Family hierarchy is based on seniority, obeying the orders of seniors and respecting the views of junior members.
The report of World Health Organisation on Covid 19 shows that in USA and Europe, more than 80% deaths are of the age group of 60 and above. The guidelines issued by World Health Organisation in April, 2020 for elderly people (www.who.int), where it mentions “The Covid 19 Pandemic is Impacting the Global Population in drastic ways. In many Countries, older people are facing the most threats and challenges at this time. Although all age groups are at risk of contacting COVID 19, older people face significant risk of developing severe illness if they contract the disease due to physiological changes and come with age and potential underlying health conditions.” Diabetes, Blood Pressure, Cardio Vascular Diseases and many more.
In response to the guidelines of WHO, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare circulates the guidelines by putting restrictions on movements and meetings with people, if we keenly observe, the ninety percent of guidelines are similar to general guidelines for all and some are specific by considering normal aging issues of elderly people.
This message was interpreted in different ways by different Local Authorities, and different sources and was communicated to the public. Some are highlighted as follows. 1. The statistics shows the death rate of elderly people is three times higher than the young adults and children. 2. “Older people should not be allowed to Go out of House. ” 3. ” They should be provided all the services at Home. ” 4. The people with age group of more than 50. working in different Government and Non-Government organisation in the country should be allowed to take leave and stay at home for their safety. 5. Health Care services should be provided to them at their residence. 6. Banking services should be provided at their door step to avoid public contact. 7. The children should maintain social distancing from the elderly people ” etc.etc.
As per the recent study done by NCBI in April / May, 2020 on “Covid 19 and published in Asian Journal of Psychiatry,
1. The higher death rate among elderly people was itself a traumatic news among elders
2. The vulnerability of disease among elderly people was adding to the existing age related issues of sensory problem, impaired cognitive abilities and so on. The burden of this infectious disease and social distancing put them into serious problems like, neglect, loneliness and abuse.
3. Such problems had put them into psychological disorder, depression and suicidal ideation
The elderly people dependent on home care services or nursing services are suffering a lot for getting such care, because as predicted by different agencies including WHO, MHFW etc. they are more prone to such infections and can be the centre of disease spreading, if not following the strict guidelines. Such message creates fear among the care takers and restrictions in movement do not allow the care takers to reach at the residence of elderly people to provide the services and most of them are suffering a lot for quality and timely services and excluded from society. Even elderly people, those who live in old age homes or care centres, it is becoming more difficult for them to get the services, because of migration of workers to their respective places of residence, availability of necessary facilities because of lock down and shut down and restrictions on their movement. Without proper services, such people are suffering from other existing aging diseases and sometimes it is being reason for their death.
In Indian Society the place of elderly people is always there as the decision maker of the family and after that advisor and friends of the grand children of the family, what they live and make it life inside the home. This social distancing should not take them away from the society and result into social exclusion, who have built up this world with their sincere efforts and dedication and made it more beautiful with their love and compassion.
So effort should be put in every sphere to acknowledge the prudence presence of all the elderly population, who spread the bliss through their calmness, spread happiness through their blessings and enriches the young generation by their wisdom of experience and realisation.