THE INCONVENIENT TRUTH

• We aim to improve human development by life expectancy so that people live much longer beyond 60. In 1900 people used to live barely one year after retirement, by 2012 a person is likely to live 25 years after retirement. That’s good news – right?

• But this prolonged life by postponing death can be a mixed blessing given the creaking machinery of our ageing bodies and the crumbling social edifice that surrounds elderly. In a world of competing priorities, we must ask as to what kind of life extension should we focus on living. It might make sense to focus on living rather than be obsessed with not dying!

• Longer old age will in particular be marked by substantial increase in population of older persons with needs for assistance and care whose number expected to reach 110 million by year 2020 from 90 million at present.

• Whether or not this increase in population of older persons will be a cause of celebration or a primary factor leading to a care-giving crisis will in fact depend on the measures and policies which are being developed at present by civil society and government.

• Trying to generalize and bracket the differing needs of older persons and helping them through blanket welfare programmes like cataract operations, day care centres, old age homes, etc. is like trying to solve “Rubiks Cube” blind folded.

• Unless the resources base of older persons marginalized by family/ society can be made more resilient coping with social welfare of this most vulnerable section of society may be next to impossible. Get ready to face the emerging realities!

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