Japan has robot caregivers for the elderly. In India, a country with an increasingly ageing population, the elderly are locked in by their ‘families’ on a night out, are deprived of food, clothing and shelter, and often, of their lives.
Here is a glimpse into the situation:
- Lack of control over income
According to a study conducted by the Agewell Foundation, 65% of the country’s old people are poor with no source of income. Not only that, even the 35% who have that are very rarely in control of their earnings, especially in non-urban areas, thanks to their dependence on other members of the family.
- Gender discrimination
Being a woman is a problem. Being a poor old Indian woman, with or without disability, is a curse onto itself. There is absolutely no care for the reproductive and mental health of these post-menopausal women, leaving a large section of them vulnerable to complications like uterine cancer, which is on a rise.
- Changing family structure
The traditional Indian joint family might have been the breeding ground for most of the Indian problems, at the same time it has been instrumental in safeguarding the interests of the elderly and the disabled. However, with the change in the economic model, there has also been a huge change in the family structure. The percentage of the elderly living alone or only with their spouse increased from 9.0 in 1992 to 18.7 in 2006, and it is an upward trend. This, in turn, leaves the elderly exposed to social, mental and physical risks. Their failing and secluded bodies leave them vulnerable to being attacked, raped and killed. The rate of suicide is also increasing. Sometimes dead bodies remain undiscovered for years.
- Lack of social support
Our government does not have any social security system for the elderly. Monthly pension is increasingly being done away with, especially in the private sector. Insurance policies do not cover new illnesses, making them obsolete for the elderly. There is also the near to absent discourse on mental health, let alone those issues specific to old age. And all these do not even come to consideration for the traditionally disposed or those who are not a part of the organized sectors.
There are also a host of other problems, many of them situational. The situation is unimaginably dire. And elderly abuse due to property issues has been a long standing problem in this country. All these factors show that the first step towards addressing the problems is providing the elderly with company. This would also provide many unemployed people with jobs. This can be best done by non-profits, who can crowdfund the salaries of a large number of caregivers to look after a large number of geriatrics through crowdfunding websites. While setting up the system would require thorough working- detailed background check of the caregiver, deciding on a reasonable salary as per the situation and the exact type of caregiving, drawing up contracts, etc., the crowdfunding effort would alone mean setting up a credible profile on the best crowdfunding platforms in India with documents and pictures supporting the motive and the aims of the crowdfunding campaign, and a story, preferably accompanied with videos documenting the work being done to home the urgency of the situation. The support teams of the crowdfunding websites in India are there to help you in each and every step.