Treating Elderly People

Dr. Jaipal Singh
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With the fast changing life style seeking more privacy, comforts and growing consumerism, the concept of the extended or combined families is fast declining with focus on nuclear families. The worst hit and neglected people on account of this change are old people in the category of grandparents and likes. The trend is universal but more pronounced in the metropolitan and other bigger cities where many such people are ill-treated and even abandoned at times.

In a recent incident in the capital, an elderly man was found who was unable to even recall his name or address. After due legal procedure, when the cops got his address and took him to his house, they were shocked to find apathetic family members - son and daughter-in-law, who, what to talk of making efforts to trace him, had not even bothered to inform the police.

It is welcome to note that taking cognizance of the case, the police brass has directed all city SHOs, making it mandatory, to lodge a case treating it as if a case of a missing child in the event of finding any abandoned senior citizens unable to reveal their antecedents, and investigating whether the person was neglected by his or her family. It is stated that 1-2 abandoned elderly people are almost found daily in Delhi alone.

As per the Global Age Watch Index, India is stated to rank rather low at 73 out of 91 countries reckoned on parameters of social and economic well-being of elderly people. As per an HelpAge India report, almost one-fourth (23%) elderly people report abuse. The daughter-in-law is reported as a primary perpetrator closely followed by the son. A majority of people abused do not report the matter.

Under the proposed procedure, the police would suo motu register a case under Section 24 of Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007 in the event of finding an abandoned elderly person. Proper investigation shall be made and the family booked, if found negligent, simultaneously informing Maintenance Tribunal and any other relevant authority under the Act. There is a need that similar action is taken in other parts of the country as well.

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