Elderly in India need specialised care: Ansari

New Delhi, Oct 1 (IANS) The elderly in India face a range of challenges such as economic insecurity, isolation and abuse and require a specialised response, Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari said on International Day of Older Persons on Thursday.

Addressing an event organised by NGO Helpage India, he said: “We need a transformation in how we visualize and treat the elderly in our society.”

“Health care services should be based on the felt needs of the elderly, which would involve a comprehensive baseline morbidity survey and functional assessment in health areas that are perceived to be important to them,” he said.

Ansari said the education, training and information needs of older persons also need focus. He said the thrust should be to identify the more vulnerable among the older persons — the poor, the disabled, the infirm, the chronically sick and those without family support — and provide welfare services to them.

He said the Indian society is undergoing rapid transformation. Consequently, the traditional values and institutions are changing, resulting in the weakening of inter-generational ties that were the hallmark of the traditional family structure.

He said that nearly 90 percent of the elderly have worked in the informal sector and do not receive any post-retirement social security coverage like pensions and medical assistance.

“They either continue to work beyond retirement age or suffer from neglect and alienation. The impact and reach of public social security infrastructure has remained limited and a large number of elderly have failed to benefit from the government schemes,” he said.

“The government is duty bound to provide reliable, effective and easy to access care and assistance to the elderly,” he said.

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