Thursday, July 25, 2024
Public Opinion

The Plight of the Elderly

The elderly population is on the rise. Over the past decade, the proportion of individuals aged 60 and above has gone up from 8.13% to 10.21%. The growing number of older people is in stark contrast with the decline in the youth population due to migration. This has led seniors to relocate to old age homes because they are unable to care for themselves anymore. If one were to properly listen to the plight of the elderly in old age homes, it would deeply sadden them.

Deprivation of State Facilities

The government provides a Rs 4,000 allowance to people at 70, along with reduced transportation costs and cheaper healthcare. However, some seniors in old age homes didn’t get these because they lacked citizenship papers.

According to a report from the National Human Rights Commission, old age homes fell short of government standards in terms of their buildings, toilets, and overall suitability for seniors. These homes weren’t monitored by the District Senior Citizens Welfare Committee, and its leaders were unaware of this situation.

Elderly people sitting on the porch
Elderly people sitting on the porch

Healthcare Issues

The elderly frequently encounter health difficulties, such as long-lasting illnesses, mobility problems, mental well-being worries, memory issues, and isolation. These issues call for healthcare specifically designed for older individuals, known as geriatric care. Regrettably, Nepal hasn’t given much attention to this type of care. 

Nepal urgently needs to enhance healthcare for the elderly population. This includes establishing specialized geriatric clinics and training geriatricians. Preventive care should be a focus to address their unique healthcare needs. Loneliness and social isolation are common among the elderly, so community-based programs and senior centers are essential for social interaction.

Nepal lacks a specialized and internationally recognized caregiving service. The elderly often rely on untrained family members for care. Creating a certified caregiver training program is crucial. This should involve collaboration with geriatric institutes to support professional caregivers and family members in better caring for their elderly loved ones.

Deprivation of Family Affection

Family holds immense importance in Nepal, and when it’s missing, the absence becomes highly apparent and a cause for profound sadness, particularly as people grow older. This is in fact, the biggest plight of the elderly. This deepens when elderly individuals in old age homes lack the warmth and affection of their families and are distanced from their place of birth. The result is a vulnerability to depression, which is truly disheartening.

Additionally, a report from the national human rights commission sheds light on the challenging situation. It indicates that families often neglect to visit their senior members in old age homes. In some cases, their own kin forget the elderly residents. Furthermore, the report highlights that certain owners of old age homes mistreat their residents, failing to provide proper care, food, and a clean environment. This highlights a distressing situation where the elderly are left without the support and care they need, both from their families and the institutions meant to assist them.

Elderly women sitting in silence
Elderly women sitting in silence

Conclusion

To ensure the welfare of the growing elderly population, it’s crucial for Nepal to cater to the specific requirements of older adults. The plight of the elderly should be addressed. This proactive approach will serve as a meaningful tribute to the senior citizens who continue to be the bedrock of our existence. By providing them with the care and support they need in their later years, only then we can honor the elderly.

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