India–Working its way to being more receptive to the elderly

India has for a long time now had a very sorry state of affairs when it comes to the care and support meted out to the ageing population. However, India recently adopted the Yogyakarta Declaration on ‘Ageing and Health’ thereby committing itself to work toward improving the health of the ageing population, finally giving them a reason to celebrate.

Given its large population and given that nearly 7.5% of the population is above the age of sixty, it comes as no surprise that soon India will be home to the second largest number of older people in the world.

The plight of the Indian elders

About 30% of the elderly are below poverty line while 80% of them are housed in rural areas making it hard to reach out to them. Thus there will be a lot of challenges that need to be overcome to get India back on track.

Having been neglected for so long, the sorry plight of the elderly in India comes as no surprise. One in every four are severely depressed. In the rural areas, nearly half the elderly population have poor vision. One in three suffer from arthritis and hypertension and almost a quarter of them are anemic.

However, in the urban space though the situation is not better, it is more optimistic. Here 2 out of 5 people suffer from diabetes while about 30% suffer from bowel disorders.

What are the changes that need to be implemented?

This declaration is working toward promoting healthy and active ageing for all citizens. However, this needs to begin early. By following a healthy lifestyle, eating the right kinds of food and exercising, age will not have too many negative effects on you.

In order to promote healthy ageing, better opportunities of physical, mental and social health needs to be provided by the government. National programs that will help the elderly be a part of society and live a healthy independent life without discrimination need to be put in place.

What is the Yogyakarta Declaration working toward?

The Yogyakarta Declaration is looking to formulate multi-sectoral national alliances for healthy ageing. These ministers will be working to provide sufficient resources to come up with programs that are centered round the long-term aspects of caring for the elderly, both at the facility and household level while at the same time, making sure there are primary healthcare systems in place to address their needs.

According to the National Program for Health Care of the Elderly (NPHCE), India is looking to have 20 institutions with the ability to produce around 40 postgraduates in geriatric medicine every year. In the next 40 years, the number of people over 65 is expected to multiply fourfold. By 2030, the number of people above the age of 60 is expected to reach whopping 198 million. Hopefully, India will have their elderly healthcare systems in place by then in order to cater to the needs of this major population.