Acknowledging demographic transition, T.N. prepares draft policy for elders

A Directorate for the Welfare of Senior Citizens is also being planned

January 29, 2022 12:09 am | Updated 12:09 am IST - Tiruchi

The Government of Tamil Nadu has framed a draft policy for senior citizens in an acknowledgement of the State’s ongoing demographic transition. In this endeavour, it plans to partner with field experts, academic institutions and civil society organisations working for the welfare of senior citizens in rural and urban Tamil Nadu. A Directorate for the Welfare of Senior Citizens is also being planned.

The draft document is based on Article 41 of the Constitution, which requires the State to secure the right to work, education and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement.

According to the report Elderly in India, 2021 released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Tamil Nadu had 13.6% of senior citizens last year. It is projected to have the second highest proportion of people aged 60 and above (after Kerala), with 18.2% in 2031.

As per the draft policy, the State government will focus on health and nutrition, social security schemes, livelihood and income security, housing and environment, safety, institutional care, awareness and education, research and documentation, disaster management and set up the Directorate for the Welfare of the Senior Citizens.

Bringing the elderly back into the community in a meaningful manner is essential, as improved healthcare has increased the average life expectancy in the State. “Senior citizens should be allowed to lead a productive life and such policies will give them social relevance. We have to do more to facilitate inter-generational transfer of knowledge, so that young people can gain from the vast experience of the elderly in their midst,” a drafting committee official told The Hindu .

The policy also looks at introducing livelihood training and capacity building for active senior citizens, with the formation of elderly self-help groups linked to banking assistance for entrepreneurial ventures. It will be addressing the prevention of elder abuse, and envisages a system of rescue centres for victims, besides vigilance and security for old people living alone or as couples.

“The problem of abandonment of the elderly, sometimes by their own family members, is growing. A policy to establish standard operating procedures for assisted living and retirement homes has to be formulated. Tamil Nadu has been a pioneer in geriatric care and policy. It is better for us to follow global standards when it comes to our ageing population, in anticipation of the challenges ahead,” said another expert involved with the draft policy.

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