International Day for Elderly People is celebrated on 1st October, every year, since 1991. United Nations General Assembly had initiated this to create awareness about issues which affects the elders and also to appreciate their contribution towards the society.
It is estimated that from 600 million, the population of the elderly above 60 will reach around 2 billion in the year 2050. Hence it becomes imperative to educate the general public about their responsibilities towards the lives of elderly people, and to make their life better by analyzing the problems affecting them.w
As most of the elders are weak and dependent, they require complete physical, mental and emotional support. If these are not provided, it will lead them to suffer because of the neglect and isolation. Lifestyle priorities, demanding jobs, shift towards nuclear family structures etc., have led to increased neglect of the elderly by family and society.
In India, there is a remarkable increase in the statistics of elders being alone in their house. A common reason behind that can be attributed to negligence by the family. While children are providing adequate financial support for the parents, they forego the basic love and care which their parents require the most. Insufficient love or care towards elders result in psychological problems which worsens their health condition significantly. Isolation among elders causes an increase in the risk of Mortality as well as Morbidity. The feeling of loneliness becomes a major risk factor for depression leading to physical problems like increased blood pressure, cardiovascular problems, sudden increase or decrease of sugar levels etc.
Many individuals enter the phase called old age without any awareness about what changes it is going to bring into their life. For most of them, the old age sets in quietly and suddenly.
Only when they face a turning point in the form of a fall or sudden illness, they realize their limitations and dependency. Also middle aged people leading busy lives tend to forget the realities of their impending old age.
Certain ways through which we can help our elders in battling their depression are as follows:
- Promoting their hobbies which will keep them occupied and push aside their effects of social isolation.
- Guiding them while travelling alone to indirectly develop a sense of independence among them.
- Encourage them to visit holy places of worship regularly to replenish their mind and give positive energy to their mind and body.
- Help them to take routine medical tests, especially for vision and hearing and provide them with adequate aids if required.
- Initiate a get- together session with your family every month.
- Ensure there is proper lightening in the house, handrails in the sides of the walls, non-slippery footwear and non-slippery floors
The best way to spread knowledge about these tips is to counsel families, create awareness among the public and raise its issues in different forums and mediums. The younger generation needs to be addressed in groups at schools and colleges, as they are the future torchbearers of the society. Government, non-government agencies and the society as a whole need to take this up seriously at all levels, to make this world a better place for the elderly to live.