Technology-integration in Old Age Homes in India A Status Paper Sugan Bhatia, Ph.D. President Indian University Association for Continuing Education Delhi 1.1 The elderly (aged 60 years and above) in India account for more than 9 percent of the total population. The National Population Commission estimated that the population of the elderly is expected to grow from 71 million in 2001 to 173 million in 2026. This demographic scenario appears to indicate a very precarious condition for the older persons in terms of their capability to enjoy the right to life with dignity. While those in the age group 60-69 years could be expected to lead a fairly healthy life and offer their services as volunteers for informal care giving to others in the two higher age groups, both the 70-79 years age group and the 80 + years age group would require critical social and medical healthcare support – both informal care giving and formal care giving. 1.2 The growing incidence of elder abuse and severe fissures in the multigenerational family or household has forced many older persons to abandon their family home; some of them have also been “pushed out” and have thus been left shelter-less. Most urban areas appear to have a growing incidence of cases of abandoned elderly. A new culture of “peer group participation” being attempted by the old persons appears to be taking roots in many parts of urban India; Old Age Homes of various types are rapidly becoming a choice for many “abandoned”, “left out” or “neglected” old persons with or without survival resources. 1.3 The vision of “alternate shelter” for older persons, as enunciated in both national and global policy frameworks, includes Group housing for older persons, No physical barriers to mobility, Health care and nutritional support, Development of age-integrated communities, Recreation services, Age-friendly, easy and safe accessibility to shopping complexes, community centers, parks and other services, and Provision of ramps and/or Lifts in vertical housing complexes. 2.1 Most developed countries have formulated public policy in regard to the Minimum Standards of Services and Care in various institutions for older persons including the Old Age Homes. These standards spell out requirement in terms of Physical facilities, Services, Activities, and Organization and Management.
2.2 Old Age Homes have largely been located in India largely at two locations: Metropolitan Cities and, Tier-two Cities that have been known for their cool climate or that have religious/spiritual interest for the elderly. Old persons have preferred to live in Metropolitan Cities largely on account of the fact that these were their original work places, or that the younger members of their families reside in such places, or, for the better physical and social infrastructural status in such places. The Tier-two cities have usually been known as “retirement cities” either on account of their relatively cooler and pollution-free climate or on account of their religious significance. The older persons are also a “class of consumers” in the “Age Care Industry” that is registering significant growth in India. Such institutions are rapidly moving towards catering to what can be called a “total package of needs” of the older persons including quality shelter, services (including medical and non-medical), and activities. These institutions no longer remain confined to networking with healthcare institutions or with service providers on a contractual basis; many institutions have built dispensaries, physio-therapy clinics and even long-term care units within their campuses. One institution in Chennai has even gone to the extent of constructing a mortuary within their Residency, as they prefer to call it. 2.2.1 There are three types of Old Age Homes based on the paying capacity of their potential and existing users. These include Homes that provide shelter/services and activities free of cost or with very low charges not...
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