Speakers at a function organised here on Wednesday to celebrate World Elders Day called for a well-defined national health policy and setting up of a separate department for senior citizens in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

Advisor to the president of FICCI, P. Murari, who was the chief guest, said in most of the Scandinavian countries and the U.S., a lot of safety and security measures are in place for the elderly. “The government at the State and Centre must have a separate department for senior citizens in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to look after the welfare needs of the elderly,” he said.

On the need to get sensitised on dementia, Mr. Murari said there is the need to train more nurses who are ready to take the patient through the day. He said more organisations should start geriatric wing and gerontology.

K. Radhakrishnan, Director, Dignity Foundation, Chennai, said the aging population that is growing at 7 to 8 per cent every year is one of the main challenges for the country. The National Dementia Summit held recently showed that 3.7 million senior citizens are affected by it. “Of the six lakh elderly population in Chennai, 25,000 have dementia,” he said. Their is no social security for senior citizens in the country, but if every State implements the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, there is hope for the elderly, he said.

S. Sundaresan, Executive Director, Star Health Medical Insurance, said the department for senior citizens should be headed by a person above 55 years as he/she would understand the needs of the elderly better. A.R. Sreeja, General Manager, Dignity Foundation, Chennai, read the annual report and highlighted the various services offered by the Foundation. Senior citizens who volunteer in different services run by the Dignity Foundation were honoured.

More In: Chennai