Right from learning difficult dance moves to searching for jobs, the elderly have now shifted gears and are found engaging themselves in activities that one could not associate them with till some time back.
Today’s senior citizens, who spent their youth rebuilding their lives post-Partition, are into more productive, stimulating and entertaining activities even in the twilight of their lives.
Investment in health insurance and pension benefits schemes is a part of the metaphorical dawn.
They can be seen discussing investment plans with insurance agents, browsing the Internet to seek financial concessions available for senior citizens and watching business news channels to remain updated on the fluctuating market in dices.
65-year-old Ramaswamy, who lives in an old age home in the capital, keeps abreast with the latest market developments to invest in pension benefits and other health insurance policies to safeguard his future and for the financial support it privies in the absence of a regular income.
“We are living separate from our children. I have saved some money but it is fast diminishing. If I stop earning through the market, who will take care of me and my wife. Our son has invested in health insurance but that is for his tax benefits,” says Ramaswamy, who has invested in Post Office Monthly Income Scheme and Senior Citizens’ Savings Schemes, that gives him a 10.5 per cent return, apart from switching funds time to time in fixed deposits of different banks.
According to a report by HelpAge India, India is home to over 80 million elderly. The figure is expected to increase to 177 million by 2025. Around 89 per cent of the people over the age of 60 are not covered under any post-retirement economic security schemes, according to “old age social and income security”, a project commissioned by the Indian government in 2000.
“Arguably, this is the next market that investment companies are looking to tap. Various investment plans for those above sixty years are availably in the market currently with the most popular being fixed deposits (FDs) which give them one to one and half per cent extra rate of return. Post office savings, Unit Linked plans and reverse mortgage are others specially designed for senior citizens,” says a market expert who did not want to be named.
“Without cover retirement plans’ are also popular as it gives a regular income as pensions. The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) is also planning bring out new regulations under which senior citizens can hope to get health cover even after the age of 65,” he adds.
Investing for long term profit gains are not the sole channel for these veterans who are also finding themselves fit enough to begin a second career in the field of their expertise.
“I find myself fit for an eight hour job. I don’t think there should be an age limit for retirement. Why politicians have the privilege of serving the nation for an unlimited period? I have applied for a job through a website and waiting for the call. Experience always matters and I am fit enough,” says 62 year old Prakash Chawla, a retired mechanical engineer.
Recently, Dignity Foundation, a Chennai based NGO in partnership with ICICI launched www.dignitysecondcareers.org, the first job portal in India meant exclusively for senior citizens offering both part-time and full time jobs in the corporate sector as well as the social sector.
Mathew Cherian of Helpage India, a Delhi based NGO, says, “We are demanding the implementation of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Bill, 2007, which makes it obligatory for children and heirs to provide maintenance to senior citizens. We are also asking for the set up of a technological assistance law for the elders. They should treated as par with others which would definitely help them in addressing the financial and emotional security in the country.”
Many people in the age group of above sixty are even learning dancing to use best of their time and keep themselves in shape.“I have never done dancing in life. But after a suggestion from a friend, I have recently joined a dance class and I think it is as beneficial as yoga or exercise. My doctor cautioned me not to do difficult moves but I will soon start salsa classes too,” says 69 year old Ashish Madan, who resides in a suburb of the national capital.