September 30, 2010


A Study by Agewell Research & Advocacy Centre (for Needs & Rights of Older Persons)
In Celebration of  
International Day for Older Persons, 1st October

On the occasion of International Day for Older Persons, 1st October, 2010, Agewell has conducted a survey on fast changing needs of older persons of the county, with an objective to bring about a perceptual change in society about changing trends of old age.

In today’s fast paced life, nothing is permanent but change. Change has become acceptable to population of all ages. Even older persons, who are known for famous adage - “Old Habits Die Hard” are talking about change, they are all set to change their old habits of adjusting or adapting themselves in whatever environment is given to them till few years back. In most of the societies, older persons usually lived a marginalized life, though with respect from society members. But today, in completely changed socio-economic scenario they also want to remain in mainstream of the society.

The survey was conducted during the 3rd week of September and 15000 older persons from across the country were interviewed.

·        90.32 % older persons want to change things accordingly, so that they can better their old age. Only 9.68% older persons were in favour of adjustment with present environment or conditions.
·        In the age-group of 60-69 years 98.97% people want to change the present environment, where as 96.55% and 51.6% in the age-groups of 70-79 & 80+ respectively want to change their living conditions.  
·        Older men were found more dissatisfied (93.61 %) in comparison to older women (87.11%). 
·        In rural areas 83.51% older persons are expecting or working for change in their lives whereas in urban areas almost all older persons (97.13 %) told that they want change, irrespective of the kind of change.
·        ¾ old rural women (78.93%) were thinking of change in their lives, whereas 95.39% old urban women were not satisfied with present circumstances and voted for change,
·        88.26% Older men from rural areas were found struggling for bringing in a change.
·        1/5th older persons (20.22%) gave 1st priority to change the social environment. 15.87% older persons expressed their desire to change medical set up so that their life could be more comfortable.
·        Fast changing financial,  psychological and interpersonal needs were found as major concerns of older person

Study concludes
-   To get rid of social marginalization, loneliness, isolation and even negligence  in old age, older persons are struggling to change their way of living and thinking. They don’t want be marginalized any more, instead they want center stage. 

-   Older persons are desperately looking for new opportunities, avenues and possibilities, through which they can utilize their energy, knowledge and capabilities & can bring a perceptional change in society about Old Age.

-   Society in general and opinion leaders & policy makers in particular need to understand fast changing needs of older persons due to fast changing socio-economic & demographic scenario of the country, so that older persons friendly environment could be ensured in the society and older persons could get opportunities to play an important role in society.

“Why should I tolerate ill-treatment from my daughter-in-law? After all I am also getting a good pension and living in my own house. If she doesn’t mind herself, I can live on my own with my wife”                        – Harish Chandra Verma, 71, New Delhi

September 18, 2010

Survey On Depression in Old Age

Survey conducted by Agewell Research & Advocacy Centre 
(for Needs & Rights of Older Persons)

September 2010

Quotations by Some of the old people who were interviewed

Brij Bhushan Sharma and Shaymla Sharma, both in their 80’s are forced to live alone in their quite big house located at Greater Kailash. Their sons are settled abroad. They hardly visit them, even for months; they could not talk to their sons and grandchildren. Money is not a problem for them at all, besides their good income from their investments; their sons too send money for them.  But due to loneliness and isolation they have been facing depression for years. Both of them suffering from multiple diseases and have to visit their doctors almost every day.

On the other hand a 75-year-old lady Harjeet Kaur, who lived in a traditional joint family of 8 members, feel also suffering from depression syndrome. She says, “I had worked hard for the welfare of my children and even grand-children, but now they have no time for me, instead they treat me as a burden on their family. My daughters-in-law, who spent most of their time, also don’t appreciate my opinion in family matters. Due to physical weakness I could not go to meet my old friends or relatives.”

65-year-old widower Javed Ali of Shahdara lives alone in his house. His sons & daughters left him and settled in other parts of the city. He worked as a carpenter, now his body doest not permit him to do work hard. He anyhow managed to take care of his daily needs.  He has no major diseases but he felt depression due to lack of family support. Depression caused a lot of tension in his mind. When he visits his grandchildren, he felt much satisfaction, but circumstances again part him from his grandchildren. It seems that he is cursed to live with his loneliness silently and ungrudgingly all alone. 

Pankaj Verma, a 70-year-old retired school-teacher has a full-fledged family with caring family members, but he is depressed. His reason of depression is his chronic illness, which rendered him bedridden. He along with his family members has spent a lot of money on treatment of his illness. He cursed himself that his illness has snatched all the money and happiness from his family. He could not go outside and meet his friends/relatives.   

These are few examples of common older persons from different socio-economic backgrounds, but their ground reality is same – they are suffering from Depression in Old Age.
Agewell recently conducted nationwide survey amongst 10000 older persons. It was found that:
·        In 71% cases of older persons, in spite of their active participation in family’s financial matters as well as social obligations and having originally possessed major part of the household/land property, younger family members are ignoring them.

·        According to 55% older persons, social interaction is one of the major factors that determine level of isolation in old age. In rural areas people have more social interactions and less pain of isolation or loneliness.

·        73.5% of older persons in urban areas have limited access to social interactions, due to various reasons; consequently they face lower self-esteem and decline in interpersonal skills. They are also found to be more self-conscious.

·        39% of older persons living in joint families and even in nuclear families have limited or no interaction with their own family members. Interpersonal relations are not found healthy in many cases. This is yet another reason of their loneliness in old age.

·        Analyzed that in opinion of 86% older persons isolation or loneliness in old age is critical, as it leads depression/ nervousness causing many diseases. It does not only weaken their mental health but also affects physical health in old age.

·        Elderly women (46%) were found less isolated due to their inner strengths than elderly men (31%), like patience, fine-tuning with family/society members, etc.

In pursuit of its overall objective of “Facilitating Better Life for Older Persons”, Agewell Foundation as a part of its on-going initiatives brought out a booklet “Depression in Old Age”. The aim of this publication is to provide a guide to the causes of Depression in Old Age, its symptoms, and ways to overcome it.

According to Himanshu Rath, Founder Chairman of Agewell Foundation said, “Depression is quite common among many of the people, particularly in old age. It is a major social challenge that cannot and should not be ignored. However, to fight Depression in Old Age, both the suffering older persons and the family members need to join hands and work together to bring back the golden happy times.”

Special features of the booklet:

Causes of Depression in Old Age

Causes of depression varies from individual to individual. Through the booklet it is attempted to identify every single reason of depression in old age. Knowledge of causes would certainly help in taking precautionary steps.

Symptoms of Depression in Old Age

Symptoms of depression arise at the very early stage of depression. Understanding and regular study of these symptoms at early stage help in keeping depression at bay.

 Dementia versus Depression

Sometimes, people get confused about dementia & depression. They treat them as diseases of same family. But the reality is much different. This booklet provides better understanding of these two diseases, which can be helpful for many affected people. 
Treatment of Depression in Old Age

There is no specific treatment of Depression in Old Age. Indeed treatment of depression is mix of counselling, interaction, psychological treatment and medicines. This Booklet emphasises that family support is like a panacea in Old Age.
Tips for helping a depressed older person

This booklet contains few tried and tested practical tips for combating depression, particularly in Old Age, which may help depressed older persons to a large extent. In this section, role of family members, relatives, friends and caregivers has also been described.Self-Help for Depressed Older
In today’s society of nuclear families, majority of older persons live alone in their houses, especially during daytime. Sometimes they feel much depressed, during that period when no one is around. In such situations self-help techniques help a lot. Booklet suggests that older persons should encourage self-help in their lifestyle and organise self-help groups in their society to keep themselves busy, so that depression could be kept away.
This booklet on Depression is being circulated as well as distributed for Free by Agewell on request by sending a mail at or it can be downloaded from its website


Media Reports on Survey

September 14, 2010

Agewell Booklet on "Depression in Old Age"

To view complete booklet, click here

Inside delhi

Madhur Tankha

Guiding the elderly

To ensure a better life for senior citizens, non-government organisation Agewell Foundation has prepared a booklet on depression focusing on symptoms and causes. Titled “Depression in Old Age”, it offers a guide to the causes of depression in old age, its symptoms and ways to overcome it. 

The Foundation has recommended possible treatment and solutions to help depressed people. Through its helpline for older persons, it receives hundreds of distress calls from senior citizens daily. It has found that 80 per cent of senior citizens in Delhi and the National Capital Region are facing problems like loneliness, isolation and little interaction with family members/relatives/friends. The majority of older persons were found to be depressed for more than one reason. 

According to Agewell Foundation founder chairman Himanshu Rath, depression is quite common among people, particularly the elderly: “It is a major social challenge that cannot and should not be ignored. However, to fight depression in old age, both the suffering older persons and the family members need to join hands and work together to bring back the golden happy times.”

The booklet on depression is being distributed free by the Foundation on request by sending a mail to agewellfoundation@ or can be downloaded from
Staff Reporter

September 11, 2010

Agewell 's Symposium OLD AGE : A BOON OR A CURSE

Symposium-cum-Interactive Session 

Under the Series of Symposiums on Needs & Rights of Older Persons
10th September, 2010