Sunday Anchor

Lower middle class left out

Tamil Nadu has 36.8 lakh people, or 10.4 per cent of its population, aged above 60 (Census 2011), with Chennai having 12-16 per cent.

The government lists at least 10 welfare schemes for seniors, such as pension, widow remarriage aid, free saris and dhotis. In 2011-12, it announced an Integrated Complex of Special Homes in each State block, for which it adopted existing homes and took over 75 per cent of their funding. Chennai has one of these complexes.

Interestingly, the city’s elderly males prefer to use one of the 28 Corporation-run night shelters rather than join a home.

Chennai has a geriatric ward (with ICU) at Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital. As for training, there is an MD programme in geriatric medicine, a Geriatric Centre at Madras Medical College, and a National Institute of Ageing coming up, said V.S. Natarajan, senior geriatrician, Chennai.

Experts say more must be done. “The welfare schemes don’t benefit the lower middle-class,” said Gayathri Ananthakrishnan, senior manager, Dignity Foundation, Chennai, which runs a dementia day care centre and a free legal clinic. V. Sivakumar, joint director, Tamil Nadu, HelpAge India, said they had petitioned the government to give the elderly in the unorganised sector a monthly pension. The organisation also runs a helpline that gets at least 10 calls a day.

Tamil Nadu has several private homes, second only to Kerala. “It is a business. They used to be taboo but now, many people opt for them, especially if their children live elsewhere,” said Ms. Ananthakrishnan.

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Printable version | Jun 20, 2021 10:17:46 PM |

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