November 9, 2012

AGEWELL'S LATEST STUDY


COMPREHENSIVE STUDY ON STATUS OF OLDER PERSONS IN DELHI-NCR (September-October 2012)

By Agewell Research & Advocacy Centre

Over the years population of Delhi – NCR has increased manifold due to migration from most populated and less developed states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh & Jharkhand, etc. People from other neighbouring states like Haryana, Rajasthan, etc. also find Delhi-NCR most suitable place for leading a more better & comfortable lifestyle. Delhi –NCR has total population of over 2 crore and more than 8% of the total Delhi & NCR population consists of older persons (60+). Delhi alone has elderly population of over 12 lakhs.  With fast changing socio-economic and demographic scenario, growing popularity of nuclear families and fast changing traditional value system, needs of older persons have also changed vehemently.

Agewell Foundation has conducted a comprehensive study on various issues concerning old age to understand the present status of older persons In Delhi & NCR.  Agewell volunteers' network spread across Delhi & NCR worked as interviewers for the survey. For the survey a representative sample of 15000 older persons were interacted during the month of September-October, 2012.

Major Findings of the Study

Isolation in old age
·     83.8% older persons were found isolated in old age (60+) in Delhi & NCR. They said that they feel isolated or experience loneliness in their present life.
·    Level of isolation in old age of older persons living in urban areas was quite higher upto 89.8% in comparison to older persons of rural areas, where 77.6% people reportedly feel isolated.
·       Majority of older persons (44.2%) said that no/less interaction with family members or within society is major cause of their state of isolation or loneliness in Delhi & NCR.
·         37.5% elderly feel isolated because they were living alone or with their spouse only.
·         In villages of Delhi & NCR 36% older persons were reported isolated socially as well as emotionally. In urban areas of Delhi & NCR 44% older persons were reported isolated socially as well as emotionally.

Level of Isolation as per family structure
·     10.9% older persons living in joint families accepted that they consider themselves isolated, within their joint families in Delhi & NCR.
·        In nuclear families about 71% older persons said that they are living in isolation, because they do not get adequate company of their family members.

·    Elderly living alone or with their spouses in Delhi & NCR are most affected by isolation syndrome. Approx. 94% elderly living with their spouses & 97% elderly living consider themselves isolated.

Impact of Isolation & Loneliness in Old Age
·        Majority of older persons reportedly complaining about isolation & loneliness in old age (43%) said that they are facing depression due to isolation & loneliness.
·        Every third older person facing loneliness in Delhi & NCR was found in poor health condition because of loneliness and less interaction with people. 36% older persons said that their health have deteriorated further since they fell alone.

Financial Status of Older Persons
·     Over 35% older persons living in Delhi & NCR have monthly income of more than Rs. 10000.
·     In No income category percentage of 80+ years elderly is highest (36%). In this income group percentage of young older persons (60-70 years) was 30%.
·    In higher income groups i.e. good income & better income categories percentage of young old persons (60-70 years), was very high 47% & 51% respectively.
·     In the age group of 60-70 years, upto 41.5% older persons were found earning more than good income i.e. > Rs. 10000 p.m.
·   89.1% older persons said that in old age maintaining good health is bigger challenge before them; therefore medical products /services are their major expenses. 
·   76.7% older persons said that they spent their most of income on household/white goods, etc. to live comfortably in old age.
·    67.8% of the elderly had invested in various financial instruments like FD, MF, etc.

Impact of Economic Slowdown on Older Persons
·        84.5% of all respondents (86.6%, 84.5% and 82.4% respondents in age-groups of 60-70 years, 71-80 years and 80+ years respectively) say the economy is in very bad condition and getting worse.
·        Over 33% of all respondents, (35.8%, 33% and 30.2% respondents in age-groups of 60-70 years, 71-80 years and 80+ years respectively), said they are having trouble paying for daily needs.
·        Respondents of strata 3 (80+ years) were less likely than those of strata 1 & 2 (60-70 years and 71-80 years) reported having taken steps to cope with a slowing economy as a result of the recent economic slowdown.
·     85.6% of the total respondents reported that they had purchased medical products or services within previous month.
·         81.4% of the respondents agreed that they use medicines to keep maintain their health.

Changing Trends of Old Age
·         90.32% older persons said that they 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..
·         Majority of older persons (56.4%) told that they need more safety and security at this stage.

Role of Older Persons in Democratic Process
·        Study shows that a majority of respondents (79.6%) had cast their votes 
·         during last general elections. According to the study older persons constitute almost 21.5% of the actual voters during elections.
·        More than 8% of the total Delhi & NCRn population today consists of older persons (60+). Delhi alone has elderly population of 12 lakhs.
·        Presently there are approx. 74 crores voters in Delhi & NCR including 110 lakhs of Delhi. Therefore the older persons automatically constitute approx. 12.5% of the voters.
·      79.2% of the older person respondents (81.2% male and 77.1% females) casted their votes during last general elections.

Legal Justice In Old Age
·        Only 14.34% of the respondents felt the need of legal protection in old age.
·      Every sixth older men (i.e. 17.27%) said that they wanted to take legal action at some point of time in their life, while in the case of older women only 10.47% older women said that they felt need of legal protection in their old age.
·      In rural areas, overall only 10.60% older persons (7.46% elderly women & 12.84% rural elderly men) agreed that they felt the need to take legal protection in old age, whereas in urban areas almost double of Rural areas i.e. 19.28%. 14.16% urban elderly women and almost 1/4th (23.47) urban elderly men had made their mind to take legal route to sort out their problems.
·         When asked about actually registering cases or filing petitions, 15.14% had opted for legal route. Again 5 of every six older persons (84.86%) did not file any legal case for seeking justice.
·         84.86% of older persons who felt the need of legal protection in old age, did not file their cases with any legal authority due to various reasons. 88.43% elderly women in comparison to 83.21% elderly men opted for not to go ahead with legal action, in order to seek justice in old age.
·      Overall 27.28% of older persons (25.81% older women & 28% older men) who thought about legal procedure but did not move further, did this due to lengthy legal process. They wanted not to waste their time or did not want to visit courts in old age.
·       14.05% older persons wanted to go for legal justice, but due to their weak financial condition, they had not enough money to pay fees of lawyers, etc.

Status of Older Women
·        62.13% older women were found illiterate, 20.79% just literate and only 17.08% older women said that they are educated.
·        Obviously, in the age group of 60-70 years highest 23.22% women were found educated in comparison to 12.86% in the age group of 71-80. In the age group of most senior women (81+) only 1 in every 15 older women was educated.
·         21.2% older women were living alone in their houses. Most of them were widow and their children were living at distance places far from them.
·        17.7% older women were found living with their aged husbands only.
·         Ironically 42.8% of elderly women approached were reportedly widowed.
·         Average period of widowhood was found around 11 years among respondents.
·     More than a half (52%) older women are being marginalised from their families/societies or not getting proper respect from other people, even from their family members.
·   Almost 2/3rd (65%) Older women living with their son/s said that their relationship with son/s is affectionate. Only 27.7% older women were not happy with their relationship with them.  
·         28% older women had no source of monthly income..
·         31% older women were found living in the very moderate monthly income group of Rs.1000–Rs. 5000.
·         1/4th older women have net worth value up to Rs. 1 Lac only.
·         33.7% older women were found in good health even at old age.
·         48.2% older women were suffering from various health-related problems.
·         44.3% older women depended on pensions of their husbands or their own pension
·         16.3% poor old women were getting old age /widow pension.
·         To meet their expenses 37% older women were found involved in household chores. 17% older women said that they go out for work, most of them worked in their fields.
·         74.9% older women expressed their dedication towards their family and family members.\
·       73.5% older women opined that in their old age they felt that they were not satisfied with their lives or not satisfied with events that are happenig in their old age.
·         3/4th older women (76%) were found emotionally detached towards their life.
·        Only 21% older women were found self-dependent or dependent on their husbands only, so far as their financial needs are concerned.
·   More than half (51%) older women said that they are dependent on their son/s for their financial requirements.
·      21% older women gave first priority to their probblem related to marginalisation/isolation in old age. 19% older women mentioned financial problems in old age  as their first priority.

Status of Older Persons in Nuclear Families
·    Out of total older persons contacted during the survey, 80.9% older persons were found living in Nuclear families/ small families. Number of older women living in nuclear or small families is slightly higher (83.2%) than older men (78.2%).
·       76.8% of older persons of urban areas live in Nuclear families/small families. Whereas in villages 80.4% of older persons live in nuclear/small families.
·     80.4% of older men in rural areas were reportedly found living in nuclear or small families, whereas 11.7% were living with their joint/extended families. 7.9% of older men were found living with their respective spouses or all alone.
·       76.8% Older men in urban areas were reportedly found living in nuclear or small families, whereas 9.2% were living with their joint/extended families. 6.5% of older men were found living alone but with their respective spouses and around 7.5% were found living alone.
·     21.7% older persons living in nuclear families said that they can look after their grand-children effectively.
·     20.2 % older persons said that their advice in family matters should be appreciated, because they can give judicious advice.
·  24.3 % older persons living in nuclear families reported that they are facing various kinds of social/interpersonal problems prominently.
·    Almost every older person accepted that he/she has been suffering from medical/health related problems. Approx. 20.8 % older persons in nuclear families said that medical/health related problems are their most common problems.
·     15.5% of older persons living in nuclear families agreed that they have lost their peace of mind due to legal/property related matters.
·       12% older persons who are living in nuclear families reported that they are facing acute legal problems.
·         It was found that 17.9 % of older persons living in nuclear families reported that financial problems are their most urgent problems.
·         10% of the total older persons in nuclear family set up replied that interpersonal relationship is their most prominent problem.
·         As per the Agewell study report, 53.61% of the respondent elderly were facing medical problems. Most affected community was Muslim community, where 61.1% older persons said that they have medical problems. 57.3% older persons from Christian community also agreed that they are suffering from at least one disease.
·        In comparison to older men health condition of older women was critical. According to survey, 64.1% of older women from minority community were facing health related problems. Percentage of medically affected women was higher in Muslim community (71.5%).
·    79.8% of urban minority older persons are facing social problems. In low middle income group areas this percentage is quite low as 59.1%.
·    When asked about their financial problems, 45% of respondents said that they are facing financial problems
·        Older Persons from Jain community were found more financially secure. Only 19.3% Jaini older persons agreed that they are in financial crisis.
·         According to survey conducted by Agewell Foundation, 47.5% of the total older persons from minority communities (59.9% Muslim, 35.5% Buddhist, 45.7% Christian 42.3% Sikh & 41.5% Jain) was facing legal problems.
·      45.4% of older persons in minority community (74.1% Muslim, 33.8% Buddhist, 50% Christian 34% Sikh & 54.5% Jain), responded that they don’t feel themselves secure.
·    Over all 30.6% of older persons from minority community (55% Muslim, 21.2% Buddhist, 45 % Christian 21.5% Sikh & 15.2% Jain), asserted that their religious rights are not protected. People don’t show respect towards their religious activities.
·     In the age group of 60-69 years health status of older persons in all minority communities was found comparatively well.  In this age group 82% of older persons ((77.5% Muslim, 81.2% Buddhist, 79% Christian 81% Sikh & 83.2% Jain) said that they are enjoying good health.


Wisdom of Old Age – Older Persons’ Perspective
·      According to 58.39% older persons, wisdom means a good combination of understanding gained by experience, accumulated knowledge or learning and insight and judgment.
·      14.6% older persons said that understanding gained by experience is wisdom in itself, whereas 12.5% older persons think accumulation of knowledge and learning is wisdom.
·      To understand the fact that to what extent is wisdom is associated with Old Age, when survey team asked to older persons, 83.05% older persons said that Wisdom of Old Age is a natural phenomenon. Only 14.36 % older people think wisdom of old age is a myth.
·        86.8% Older people living in urban areas said that Wisdom is reality in old age. In rural areas 79.26% older persons were of the view that wisdom has direct connection with Old Age.
·      In Delhi & NCR older persons are treated as much wiser. According to survey analysis, 3/4th older persons said that wisdom is domain old people only. Old men think themselves wiser than others (78%) in comparison to older women (73.49%).
·      Approx. 1/5th older persons (19.69%) said that they are being constantly ignored /neglected by their family members/society.
·         This trend was seen more critical in urban areas of Delhi & NCR where 22.01 % older persons said that they have no say in their family matters. In rural areas 17.36% older persons realize the same.
·     According to 62.5% respondents from younger age groups, wisdom means a good combination of understanding gained by experience, accumulated knowledge or learning and insight and judgment.
·       13% respondents from younger age groups said that understanding gained by experience is wisdom in itself, whereas 15.7% respondents from younger age groups think accumulation of knowledge and learning is wisdom.
·     To understand the fact that to what extent is wisdom is associated with Old Age, when survey team asked to respondents from younger age groups, 59.5% respondents from younger age groups said that Wisdom of Old Age is a myth. More than 1/3rd respondents think wisdom of old age is a reality.
·      15.6% young respondents said that their older family members felt themselves ignored /neglected in family /society.

Status of Bedridden Older People in Delhi & NCR
·      It was found that percentage of bedridden men patients (67.5%) is higher than bedridden women patients (32.5%) among total bedridden patients of Delhi & NCR.
·      66.5% of the total bedridden patients were confined to bed for a short period (less than 12 months) while 33.5% of the total contacted bedridden patients were long-term patients.
·         Almost 76.5% were partially affected while 23.5% bedridden patients were severely affected.

Human Rights of Older Persons
·      78.1% of older persons reportedly living in inhuman conditions were living alone or from small/nuclear families
·         69.4% respondents were found living alone or in nuclear/small families
·      In Delhi & NCR section only 24.3% older persons said that they are aware of human rights of older persons.
·         69% older persons (78.8% older men & 60.8% older women agreed that they had to go through critical phase in their life or have to live in abject situations due to their old age.
·       11.5% older persons revealed that they are not getting proper food in old age.
·        11% older persons said that they are not getting proper food in old age.
·        Approx. 18% older person is not getting proper medicine/health care in old age.
·   Two-third older persons are not getting due respect or good treatment from his/her family member/society.
·         72.1% older persons were discriminated because of their Age
·    75.6% older men and 69.1% older women accept that due to their age they were humiliated occasionally or treated disrespectfully.

“Old Age has become hell for us due to mistreatment of our daughter-in-law with us. For sake of happiness of our son and grand-children, we prefer to keep quiet and ignore her (daughter-in-law’s) misbehavior.”
Pankaj Luthra (75) & Nirmla Devi (71), Munirka, New Delhi 

Observations

In spite of major role and active participation of older persons in Delhi & NCR’s economy, they are still considered as negligible consumers in comparison to younger generation. Older persons living nuclear families in Delhi & NCR have very little say in day to day lives of their children or grandchildren.

In urban set up violation of human rights of elderly population is on rise. Popularity of small/nuclear family system, lack of intergenerational interaction, less social interaction of older persons, age discrimination, non-existence of inclusive social security system in the country, etc. are among the most important reasons of miserable condition of older persons in Delhi & NCR.

Conclusion

Older persons living in Delhi & NCR need to be organized so that their role in economy could be recognized as well as appreciated at various levels and on the other hand their consumer interests could also be protected. Ironically, though older people represent both the ends of democracy (as voters and leaders) there is hardly any focus on them.

In changed set up, old people face increased incidences of age discrimination, ageism, elder abuse and mistreatment of older community. Creating awareness of Human Rights of Older Persons in the society, particularly among older persons and protection of their human rights has become an uphill task for all of us.

In the fast changing circumstances when the number of old people in every society is increasing at a very fast pace we need to inculcate a sense of responsibility in the society towards needs & rights of older persons.                            

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