Old-age homes reflect sorry statistics

Number of residents increasing; Social Justice Department plans awareness drive

September 20, 2015 12:00 am | Updated 05:45 am IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:

The rapid increase in the number of residents in old-age homes in Kerala during recent times has set off alarm bells in the Department of Social justice.

According to information made available by the Government Home for the Aged, Kollam, there has been a 69 per cent increase in the number of residents of old-age homes in the State over the past four years.

Moreover, a recent study by HelpAge India concluded that Kerala, among all the States, has the maximum number of old-age homes.

In 1961, those above 60 years constituted 5.8 per cent of the national population, which rose to 6.8 per cent in 1991. In 2016, the figure is expected to be 8.9 per cent. Going by the 1991 figures, the rate of growth of the aged is over 60 per cent, which is more than the rate of growth of the total population. Among the aged, the growth rate of those aged above 70 is greater than that of those aged above 60.

According to UN estimates, the aged population in the world is expected to touch 22 per cent by 2050. In 2006, the aged constituted 11 per cent of the world population.

The rate of increase in the aged population in Kerala is higher than that of the other States.

The percentage of the aged in Kerala was 5.83 in 1961. In 1991, this rose to 8.82 per cent - higher than the national figure - and became 9.79 per cent in 2001. Going by this trend, the aged in Kerala will constitute 16 per cent of the total population by 2021 and 20 per cent by 2026.

A significant feature of the aged population in Kerala is the number of widows. In 1991, among those aged 60 to 69, only 5 per cent were widowers.

However, the percentage of widows in this age group was 53.8. Among those aged above 70, this percentage nearly doubles.

It is to find ways to address the needs of this rapidly increasing aged population that the department has given shape to the programme ‘Thanalekiavarku Thanalekaam’(Lets Shelter Those who Sheltered Us). The awareness programme will be launched at a programme to be held on October 1 at the old-age home in Kollam.

The programme, among other things, will focus on the attitude of the younger generation towards the aged and on how nuclear families can care for the aged members of the household.

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