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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A new perspective on growing old

What if everything we knew about aging was wrong?

A very special guest, Dr. Bill Thomas, stopped by KFOR to give us a new perspective on growing old.

Dr. Thomas’ message is invigoratingly simple – the transition into our elder years should not be spent in frenzied disharmony. In order to play “life’s most dangerous game” successfully we need to reimagine and create clear and satisfying purpose to how we spend the rest of our lives.

“Everything we think we know about getting older is wrong,” says Dr. Bill Thomas, a Harvard educated physician and author of the book Second Wind: Navigating the Passage to a Slower, Deeper, and More Connected Life. “We are being manipulated and misled by a cult-like devotion to youth and speed. It’s time we shake ourselves out of the misery of aging and repurpose and restore the wonders and integrity of the second half of life.”

Some things he recommends:

Protect your kids and elders from the cult-like addiction and devotion to youth. Push back against the encroachment of inverted values on kids’ and elders’ turf.  Let the kids be kids and let the elders grow old gracefully. Say no to standardized tests in kindergarten. Don’t worship youth as perfection.

Ignore the Anti-Aging Gurus and Quackery.  Toss the creams, supplements, and elixirs. Say no to botox, human growth hormones and other expensive and even dangerous snake oils that give you nothing but false hope. Resist the pressure and don’t succumb to the idea that the only good older person is one who looks and acts like a younger person.

Look in the Mirror and Embrace Yourself. Love yourself the way you are. Don’t accept the idea that aging is defined solely as a matter of decline. Rejoice in the fact that lots of things get better and improve with age. Enjoy the fact that there is more happiness and less stress,  anger, and strife.

Slow down and focus on quality time. Stop letting your time-saving gadgets, apps, and technology take over the natural rhythms in your life. Turn them off. Turn the volume down. Get away from them. Go outside. Take a walk every day. Meditate. Have a conversation with a loved one. Break the pandemic hurry sickness.

Choose how you spend your time. Think about how you spend each day. Choose to do less things you don’t like or enjoy. Choose to do more things that you like to do. Don’t say yes, when you want to say no. Say no and do what you want to do instead. Spend more time with the people you enjoy and less time with the people you don’t.

Volunteer Your Time to Help Others. Get involved somewhere – anywhere you can spend time helping others. Enjoy the fact you have abundant time to devote to others. Give yourself to help others and you will strengthen the bonds between you and other people in your community.

Take up a new hobby or an old one you abandoned. Spend more time doing something you really love and are fascinated with. Experience the wonder and joy of trying new things and developing skill and even expertise you never imagined was possible. Don’t be afraid to be a beginner. Share your creations with others frequently so that you look forward to more unique and special opportunity to connect and engage.

Call your elders more frequently. If you don’t have one, get a surrogate, no matter your age. Reach out, communicate and engage with more elders more frequently. Realize that the time you spend with them is a gift beyond measure. Seek out and learn more ways to make their time interesting and enjoyable. Learn to appreciate and benefit from the time you have to talk to them, guide them and exchange much needed wisdom.

Protect Your Play Time. Don’t let the cult of adulthood wreak havoc on your play time. Liberate yourself and experience the joy and energy that results from spontaneous, unstructured play.  If you need help figuring this one out, find a child to guide you. If you are with your elders, break out a game of cards, checkers, or Monopoly. Everyone lives better when they have enough unstructured playtime.

Create and organize rituals to honor aging! Get together with other men and women and spend time showcasing the things you appreciate, sharing your knowledge, crafts, creations and stories, bestowing respect, honor and dignity on each other. Instead of allowing society to marginalize you and others because of your age, come together and celebrate your coming of age.  Champion one and all to become a “crone” or “sage” as an act of empowerment.

Dr. Bill Thomas is an internationally recognized expert on aging. He is an Ashoka Fellow and winner of the Heinz Award for the Human Condition. He co-created The Eden Alternative, an international nonprofit, and The Green House Project, both models to revolutionize nursing home care. In addition to teaching, speaking, and consulting internationally, he is currently a Senior Fellow of AARP's Life Reimagined Institute. A graduate of the State University of New York and Harvard Medical School, he lives in Ithaca, New York with his family.

Courtesy: http://kfor.com/2015/10/20/a-new-perspective-on-growing-old/

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

'Karma Kurry' book series aims to inspire young Indians

Jeroninio Almeida's Karma Kurry - The Hero in Me, published by Jaico publishing, showcases real people who make a difference to society. In a chat with Prachi Rege, 'Jerry', as he is popularly known, talks about the concept of 'real heroes' and how to live life with a definite purpose.

What does the Karma Kurry book series constitute of?
The first book was published a year ago, which we sold purely through word of mouth and social media. It constitutes stories of real life heroes, a combination of eminent personalities like Anu Aga and Meera Sanyal to ordinary people like Sailesh Mishra, Laxman Singh and Suhasini Mistry, who chose to walk an extra mile to change the lives of other people. Steadily our society is promoting the idea of materialistic values which is essential to a certain extent. However, we fail to imbibe value-based education, it is all about fame and fortune and attaining success at any cost. Stories in Karma Kurry seek to change this perspective, and divert the attention from glamorous celebrity idols to real life unsung heroes.

What gave you the idea to write the book?
I conduct training sessions with parents and teachers on a regular basis. A parent once asked me, 'If your concept of heroes is not celebrities, then who is it?'.  To this I replied, 'It's the people who give back to the society.' I want youngsters to understand, there are so many people who haven't been to school and are yet capable of contributing to the benefit of society, then why not us? Unfortunately, we have copied only frivolous practices like reality TV shows from the West, but failed to take in its spirit of volunteering.

How many such books are planned in the series? Does it fall in the self-help genre?
Ten such books, illustrating stories of real life heroes are in the pipeline. I would not like to position it as a self-help book, but more of a spiritual one, because we are celebrating the spirit of life. Human beings have the same gifts, but most of us don't open, or overlook them. We put unnecessary constraints on ourselves and complain that government agencies and institutions are not doing enough. It is time we shed that 'victimising' attitude. For example, after reading the story of Subhasini Mistry, I want my reader to think, if a maid can turn around a tragedy in her life into an opportunity and build a hospital that provides affordable treatment, then why not me? It is time we inspire each other. Most parents ask their children to chase success, however, I believe that one must focus on chasing a purpose, success will follow automatically.

Who should read it?
The stories are told in simple English, so anybody from the age group of 10 to 70 years can pick up a copy. There are plans to further simplify it with the help of caricatures and 100 word condensed stories that can reach a younger audience. We are in talks with TV channels to bring out a reality show with these heroes and also have plays that depict their lives.

Who is you hero?
I lost my father at an early age, my mother raised us with humble means. By the time I was 17-years-old, I was sulking about not owning Nike shoes and felt left out and alone in this world. However, while volunteering at Kamathipura, during my student days at St Xavier's college, Mumbai, my perspective of life changed completely. We used to teach children of sex workers every week. A sex worker, who I used to call Sunni didi, told me that I had good teaching skills and that I should pursue it as a career. Today, I train 70,000 people through my training sessions, I want to thank her for being my hero, as she spotted a potential in me. It certainly gave me a sense of direction, when I was a lost soul.

Courtesy: DNA

Source: http://www.dnaindia.com/lifestyle/books-and-more-karma-kurry-book-series-aims-to-inspire-young-indians-2056041

Senior citizens face biggest social problems: Dlamini

Social Development Minister, Bathabile Dlamini, says physical abuse, abandonment and financial abuse are the biggest problems faced by the elderly in South Africa.

Dlamini, says more than 500 000 older persons collect social grant to look after their grandchildren. She says that is one of the reasons why they need to be honoured.

Dlamini spent the day with grandparents and pensioners in Soshanguve, north of Pretoria.

Grandparent's Day is observed annually to celebrate the positive contribution made by senior citizens to the country.

"We've also come to say to them thank you for looking after our children, because older persons are taking care of the children who no longer have parents and also thank you for ensuring that they grow up, they go to school and we also want to thank them because most of the children that stay with their grandparents perform very well at school," says Dlamini.

Emily Mate has three grandchildren and says even though she loves looking after her grandchildren, many grandparents struggle to cope with the responsibility.

"There are so many teenage pregnancies here, and they leave their children with their grandmothers, and it's too challenging, what if that grandparent is ill. What is he/she going to do with the children. And if you are a parent why do you not put a support grant here," says Mate.

Dlamini says her department is aware of the financial difficulties that many grandparents face.

She says government is dealing with private companies, who distributes grants and then deduct money for their services.

"We want to assure all of them that we are still dealing with the matter and we are also pleading with them to go to our front line offices if their monies are deducted. We are still busy with the dispute with the company that is paying out pensions," says Dlamini.

Many old people are also the victims of other forms of abuse.

Some of the old people who attended the event complained that they had to wait for more than four hours, without food or water in a warm tent for the minister to arrive.

Source: http://www.sabc.co.za/news/a/1000ca004a1631e1ab96eba53d9712f0/Senior-citizens-face-biggest-social-problems:-Dlamini-20150410 

No takers for senior citizen homes?

HYDERABAD: Not too long ago, a niche group of developers gave the real estate sector a fresh concept - Senior Citizen homes. Complete with centralized kitchens, house-keeping staff, doctorambulance-on-call services and sufficient green spaces, these communities were seen springing up one by one, especially on the outskirts of Hyderabad.

While at first look, the idea seemed nothing short of magnificent, it doesn't seem to have picked up - as was assumed - in the city, over time. Though a select few construction firms, specializing in such homes-for-the-elderly maintain that there is still a small yet significant demand for these properties, not many are convinced about the same. And this includes those living in these houses for a while now.

"Our community is free of pollution.The greenery around is peaceful. But there are other concerns - poor medical facilities being one of them," said P S Pant. The retired additional director general of the India Meteorological Department has been living in the Dhyanaprastha Township for senior citizens near Shamirpet for seven years now. "After we moved in, we paid Rs 1 lakh (per family) to the nearest hospital (Oxygen) to ensure cashless treatment in case of an emergency. Recently, the hospital has shut down and we do not know what to do," Pant rued adding how after much trouble the elderly occupants have only now got a resident doctor.

But, another significant gap is the lack of "young people" around in such residential communities."Over time, I have come to realize that old people should not be isolated. They tend to get lonely. Their conversations largely revolve around health issues and that's depressing. If we had children playing in the garden, instead, it would be more satisfying," Pant confessed.

Builders have a different take. Insisting on these communities being "essential for society", they claim that a large section of senior citizens today crave for "independent living". "A lot them want to stay by themselves these days. If there is a quality support system in place to meet their basic requirements - food, healthcare etc - they are only too happy to live in such communities," said P Viswanathan, managing director of Serene Senior Living Pvt Ltd. The firm that has operations across Chennai, Coimbatore, Puducherry - and is entering markets like Bangalore soon - had launched a similar project in Hyderabad a few years ago. It subsequently had to call it quits owing to poor sales. But Viswanathan maintains that it wasn't for the lack of demand. "While I am not too familiar with the Hyderabad market, I was told that our problem was the location - slightly removed from the city . But having said that we are sure to return to the city as soon as possible. There are a lot of people who have expressed interest in our venture," he added.

Similarly, G Ravi Kumar, director of Saket - one of the first firms to design such homes (Saket Paranaam) - too is confident of this segment growing in the future. "Our community, near A S Rao Nagar, has done very well and we are now in the process of launching a new ven ture, on the similar lines, near Kompally," Kumar said.

The fact that Saket's pro jects are integrated with residential projects hous ing younger occupants, per haps, is the key to their success.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/No-takers-for-senior-citizen-homes/articleshow/49251332.cms 

Toll Free Helpline for Senior Citizens Soon in West Bengal

KOLKATA:  A toll-free helpline will soon be introduced by the West Bengal government to provide assistance to senior citizens on the issues of health, legal and security.

"Senior citizens will be able to communicate using this toll-free number when they need any assistance be it on health issues or when there is any robbery at their houses," state Women and Child Welfare Minister Shashi Panja said.

"There are several senior citizens who are not getting their pension on time...We have to look into that. We are also considering if senior citizens can be given any subsidy in ration or whether there can be a separate counter for them at hospitals or at places where they need to visit every month," the minister said.

Stating that the state government is also planning to conduct counselling sessions for the elderly people to take care of their mental fitness. The state was also mulling over making legal assistance free for the community if needed, she said.

"The government is also thinking of training persons on Geriatric Care Management on whom the elderly persons can rely," she said.

She added that the government has "prepared a draft on the entire matter and are waiting to send it to the Cabinet for its green signal".

Source: http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/toll-free-helpline-for-senior-citizens-soon-in-west-bengal-1225442 

Solanki launches mobile App for senior citizens

Launching 'lost and found' mobile and web based application for senior citizens, Punjab and Haryana governor Kaptan Singh Solanki today said that it will help them to lodge their non-cognisable reports online for loss of their documents and articles.

Interacting with senior citizens, Solanki said that senior citizens constitute an integral part of society, guiding every endeavour in social system with their knowledge, experience and expertise.

"They (senior citizens)are, in fact our national resource and must be enabled to remain active and utilise their potential for the benefit of society by associating them in different activities," he said.

The governor said that this initiative of Chandigarh Police would provide door step services to the senior citizens.

The service would also assist the senior citizens in depositing bills, and ensure the security of their homes when they were not in city, he said.

Solanki gave Rs five lakh from his discretionary fund for the welfare of senior citizens Association.

Speaking on the occasion, R P Upadhya, Inspector General of Police said that Chandigarh Police is committed to provide all possible help to the residents of city.

He said Chandigarh Police in its community out-reach programme lays great emphasis on providing door steps services to senior citizens.

He said under this initiative, Chandigarh Police would provide online digitally signed certificates which senior citizens might use for procuring duplicate copies of lost documents or lodge insurance claim in respect of their articles.

Source: http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/solanki-launches-mobile-app-for-senior-citizens-115100601216_1.html 

Senior Citizens Interest Rate Safe

NEW DELHI:  With most banks showing reluctance to reduce their deposit rates as it faces stiff competition from the mass popular small savings schemes, the Finance Ministry on Monday said that the government will keep in mind the interest of senior citizens and girl child while reviewing the small deposit schemes as well.

“The interest of small savers, the interest of senior citizens, interest of girl child scheme, all these aspects will be taken into account. Social security component of small savings schemes is very important and government will keep that in mind,” Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das said.

The Finance Ministry last week said it would review the small savings schemes. There has been a call from bankers to lower interest rate on small savings as a high rate on such schemes run by the government makes fixed deposits of banks uncompetitive.

Smalls saving schemes include Post Office Monthly Income Scheme, PPF, Post Office Time Deposit Scheme, Senior Citizen’s Savings Scheme, Post Office Savings Account, and Sukanya Samriddhi Accounts.

With the RBI reducing its key rate forcing banks to cut its deposit rates by bank, the small saving deposits continue to command an interest rate of 8.4 to 9.3 per cent.

Source: http://www.newindianexpress.com/business/news/Senior-Citizens-Interest-Rate-Safe/2015/10/06/article3064690.ece 

16 senior citizens who are having the time of their lives

In Sao Paulo, Brazil, a contestant dances next to relatives and friends during a beauty contest for elderly women held in honor of Mother's Day.
People are living longer than ever before.

A recent study from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation found that global life expectancy for both men and women increased from 65.3 years in 1990 to 71.5 years in 2013.

Senior citizens with big personalities - for example, 87-year-old grandma Baddie Winkle, who's earned more than 1.6 million followers for her hilarious posts on Instagram - are slowly changing the stereotypes surrounding those over 60.

The United Nations has even designated a day in October to honor the older people who have made contributions to our world. Dubbed the "International Day of Older Persons," October 1 is a day when we "recognize that older persons are an enormous asset to society and make a significant contribution to global development," UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon writes.

The following senior citizens are definitely still living life to the fullest - following the famous quote attributed to Mark Twain: "Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."

(Captions by Sarah Jacobs and Reuters)

Source: http://www.businessinsider.in/16-senior-citizens-who-are-having-the-time-of-their-lives/articleshow/49251101.cms 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

President of India presents the National Awards Vayoshreshtha Samman 2015 #SeniorCitizens

The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee today presented National Awards “Vayoshreshtha Samman” to senior citizens in a function organized by the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment here today.  Highlighting the role of the Older Persons in the society, Shri Mukherjee said that the International Day of Older Persons is an occasion to focus renewed attention on issues relating to the older people.  There is a need to sensitize various strata of the society towards the challenges being faced by the elderly people, he emphasized.

Stressing on the due care of the senior citizens through various socio economic measure, the President said that the Indian tradition of respecting and caring for elders has been passed on from generations.  “We must not let this socio-cultural asset of our wither away.  Facilities to provide institutional care to needy elderly persons must be established in sufficient numbers”.  Shri Mukherjeee said in the backdrop of changing socio-economic conditions, the effectiveness and efficacy of these laws have to be evaluated.

On the occasion Shri Thaawar Chand Gehlot, Union Minister for Social Justice & Empowerment said that the Government has taken a number of initiatives for the welfare of senior citizens. Programmes and Policies are being reframed with this purpose.  He said that the National Awards are intended to show case the Government’s concern for senior citizens and its commitment towards them with the aim of strengthening their legitimate place in the society.

Welcoming the President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee and the Union Minister for Social Justice & Empowerment Shri Thaawar Chand Gehlot.  Shri Vijay Sampla, MoS, SJE said that the Awards showcase the Government’s concern for senior citizens and its commitment towards them with the aim of strengthening their place in the society and encourage their outstanding contribution for the welfare the senior citizens.

The National Awards for senior citizen – Vaysohreshtha Samman are presented every year.  Following were the awardees for the year 2015.

Category of National Award
Name of the Institution/individual
Best Institution for providing services to senior citizens and awareness generation
1.      Gram Vikas Parisha, Vill. Rangaloo, Jumarmur.
2.      Pravara Rural Hospital, Loni, Tahata.
Best District Panchayat in providing services and facilities to senior citizens.
1.      Zilla panchayat Dindori, Dindori, MP.
2.      Udupi Zilla Panchayath, Manipal, Karnataka.
1.      Shri uday Singh Maan, Lowa Kalan, Jhajjar, Haryana.
Iconic Mother
1.      Smt. Laduben alias Leelaben Chaabildas Gurjar, Thakkar-Bapa Colony, Ahmedabad, Gujarat.
Life Time Achievement
1.      Shri Yashwant Narayan Kadam, Vijaynagar Colony, Kolhapur, Maharashtra.

Present on the occasion were Shri Vijay Sampla, MoS, SJE, Shri Krishan Pal Gurjar, MoS, SJE, Smt. Anita Agnihotri, Secretary, SJE on other senior officials of the Ministry.

Source: http://pib.nic.in/newsite/erelease.aspx?relid=0

Well-being of older persons mandated in the Constitution of India: Vice President

The Vice President of India, Shri M. Hamid Ansari has said that the well-being of older persons has been mandated in the Constitution of India. He was addressing the International Day of Older Persons organized by the Helpage India, here today.

Shri M. Hamid Ansari said that Census statistics show that India has a youthful population, with over half the Indians being below the age of 35 but the fact often overlooked is that with increasing life expectancy, India is fast graying and that we have a large number of elderly- a growing and vulnerable segment which the society seem woefully ill equipped to manage.

The Vice President stated that the Indian society is undergoing rapid transformation under the impact of industrialization, urbanization and globalization and the traditional values and institutions are changing. As nuclear families become the norm, the family based social safety nets are no longer adequate and the transition from rural, agrarian set-up to urban, industrial way of life, migration from villages to cities and increasingly, abroad, forces the younger generation to leave their elders alone back home, he added. He opined that the finances are stretched as healthcare becomes expensive. The Vice President said that efforts should also be made for enhancing the productivity span of the elderly.

Shri M. Hamid Ansari said that we need a transformation in how we visualize and treat the elderly in our society. Health care services should be based on the felt needs of the elderly, which would involve a comprehensive baseline morbidity survey and functional assessment in health areas that are perceived to be important to them, he added. He further added that education, training and information needs of older persons will also have to be met. The thrust should be to identify the more vulnerable among the older persons - the poor, the disabled, the infirm, the chronically sick and those without family support, and provide welfare services to them on a priority basis, he opined.

The Vice President said that the non-governmental agencies need to be encouraged and assisted to organize services such as day care, multi-service citizen’s centres, outreach services, supply of disability related aids and appliances, short term stay services and friendly home visits by social workers.

Following is the text of the Vice President’s address:

“Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be,

Or so said English poet Robert Browning.

If one were to go by the TV portrayal of elderly in India, one could be forgiven to believe that the elderly in India are getting the all care and dignity they deserve by the younger generations. The reality, however, cannot be more different. Census statistics tells us that India has a youthful population, with over half the Indians being below the age of 35. What is often overlooked is that with increasing life expectancy, India is fast graying and that we have a large number of elderly- a growing and vulnerable segment which the government and the society seem woefully ill equipped to manage.

In India, as per the 2011 census, the population of senior citizens who are more than 60 years old, was 10.4 crore, which is 8.6 percent of the population. A report jointly brought out by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Help Age International says that by 2050 the number of elders will shoot up to 32.3 crore, constituting 20 percent of the total population. Many other countries are witnessing similar demographic change. But in India, the problem is compounded by two issues.

One, the Indian society is undergoing rapid transformation under the impact of industrialization, urbanization and globalization. Consequently, the traditional values and institutions are changing, resulting in the weakening of inter-generational ties that were the hallmark of the traditional family structure in India where the care of the elderly was a shared responsibility with the children taking care of their parents. As nuclear families become the norm, the family based social safety nets are no longer adequate. Transition from rural, agrarian set-up to urban, industrial way of life, migration from villages to cities and increasingly, abroad, forces the younger generation to leave their elders alone back home. Finances are stretched as healthcare becomes expensive.

The second issue is that nearly 90 percent of the elderly have worked in the informal sector and do not receive any post–retirement social security coverage, like pensions and medical assistance. They either continue to work beyond retirement age or suffer from neglect and alienation. The impact and reach of public social security infrastructure has remained limited and a large number of elderly have failed to benefit from the government schemes.

On the Global AgeWatch Index (GAWI) for 2014, India ranks 71st among the 96 countries. This when countries like Bolivia and Sri Lanka, which also have high poverty levels, rank much above India. The Government of India is duty bound to provide reliable, effective and easy to access care and assistance to the elderly.

Well-being of older persons has been mandated in the Constitution of India. Article 41, a Directive Principle of State Policy, provides that the State shall, within the limits of its economic capacity and development, make effective provision for securing the right of public assistance in cases of old age. Social security has been made the concurrent responsibility of the Central and State Governments.

Maintenance of Parents is included in section 125 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 and also the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act 1956. The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and senior Citizen Act, 2007, also known as “Senior Citizens Act” explicitly states that it should be the duty of the children to maintain their parents. The Act applies to all communities. The implementation of the Act, however, remains patchy.

The elderly in India face a range of challenges that include failing health, economic insecurity, isolation, lowered self-esteem, abuse, idleness and neglect. These specific set of problems require specialized response. There is a lack of infrastructure to provide the specialized attention to the growing numbers of elderly. Very few Government hospitals in India that have specialized geriatrics facilities. The off-take from Government schemes like the National Programme for Health Care of the Elderly (NPHCE) has also been poor.

The Mohini Giri Committee, set-up to review the implementation of the 1999 National Policy for the elderly, had suggested sweeping changes to the government policies and programmes to make benefits to elderly more widely and easily available. It advised special focus on elderly women and rural poor, and other disadvantaged seniors. It had also pointed out the lacunae in implementation of the existing schemes suggested remedial action. The recommendations became the backbone of the National Policy on Senior Citizens 2011.

The draft 12th Five Year plan had also identified some key action areas- including the setting up a National Commission for Senior Citizen; Establishment of Old Age Homes with integrated multi-facility centre in 640 districts and Health insurance for senior citizens. International experience shows a combination of welfare policies lead to healthy and quality life for the elderly. Even in the absence of a well-endowed economy, strong political will can do the job.

For example Bolivia, a country with resource constraints, ranks much higher than India in the global index for elderly care. The achievement can be linked to the government’s progressive policy for the elderly. In 2009, the Bolivian government rewrote the Constitution to include and guarantee the rights of elderly, who account for 10.4 percent of the country’s population.

While Government supported public social networks and safety nets are essential, we also need to look at how the elderly can continue contributing to the society longer. Government data shows that India’s old age dependency ratio is increasing. In order to reduce the pension bills to manageable levels, we must also look at enhancing the productivity span of the elderly.

The received wisdom is that a larger proportion of old people means slower growth and less savings. Some economists are, however, more optimistic, arguing that people will adapt and work longer. In some developed countries, the earlier views on retirement have undergone a change. Almost 20% of Americans aged over 65 are now in the labour force, compared with 13% in 2000. Nearly half of all Germans in their early 60s are employed today, compared with a quarter a decade ago.

New research on productivity of elder workers shows that while the older workers were as productive in similar tasks as their younger colleagues, they actually commanded a higher premium price in certain skill based jobs. The key factor is education and skill. Less-skilled workers often have manual jobs that get harder with age. Higher-skilled workers, on the other hand, tend to be paid more, which gives them an incentive to keep working. Training the elderly, providing quality health care and modifying the work environment helps in increasing the productivity term of the seniors.

An experiment by leading German carmaker, BMW at its plant in Dingolfing, as described in a 2010 Harvard Business Review article, threw up some interesting results. The company modified one of its production lines and staffed it by workers who were near or beyond retirement age. 70 small—mostly ergonomic—changes, such as adding barbershop chairs so workers can perform tasks sitting down and orthopedic shoes for comfort, were made to the “pensioner’s assembly lines” as it was called. The total investment in modifications was a paltry US $ 50,000. The changes led to an enhancement of productivity by 7%. The line thereafter has performed at par with other lines with younger workers.

History is full of examples, where the elderly have contributed fruitfully well into their twilight years. As the American poet Longfellow wrote -

‘Cato learned Greek at eighty; Sophocles            
Wrote his grand Ĺ’dipus, and Simonides      
Bore off the prize of verse from his compeers,        
When each had numbered more than fourscore years,        
And Theophrastus, at fourscore and ten,    
Had but begun his “Characters of Men.”            
Chaucer, at Woodstock with the nightingales,        
At sixty wrote the Canterbury Tales;
Goethe at Weimar, toiling to the last,          
Completed Faust when eighty years were past.’

We need a transformation in how we visualize and treat the elderly in our society. Health care services should be based on the felt needs of the elderly, which would involve a comprehensive baseline morbidity survey and functional assessment in health areas that are perceived to be important to them. Education, training and information needs of older persons will also have to be met. The thrust should be to identify the more vulnerable among the older persons - the poor, the disabled, the infirm, the chronically sick and those without family support, and provide welfare services to them on a priority basis.

Voluntary organizations, such as HelpAge India, need to be encouraged and assisted to organize services such as day care, multi-service citizen’s centres, outreach services, supply of disability related aids and appliances, short term stay services and friendly home visits by social workers. This is the least we need to ensure so that elderly can go through their twilight years with dignity, without having to fear that they will end up no longer counting for anything.

I once again thank the organizers, HelpAge India for inviting me to this event and wish them all the very best in their future endeavors.

Jai Hind.”

Source: http://pib.nic.in/newsite/erelease.aspx?relid=0 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

International Day of Older Persons 2015: 2015 Theme: Sustainability and Age Inclusiveness in the Urban Environment

All over the world 1st October is Celebrated as International Day of Older Persons (IDOP).

International Day of Older Persons 2015: 2015 Theme: Sustainability and Age Inclusiveness in the Urban Environment

"Making cities inclusive of older persons means generating opportunities for their economic and social participation in accessible and safe environments. It also means providing affordable housing as well as the health and social services needed to support ageing in place."

                                                                                           - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

On 14 December 1990, the United Nations General Assembly (by resolution 45/106) designated 1 October the International Day of Older Persons.

This was preceded by initiatives such as the Vienna International Plan of Action on Ageing - which was adopted by the 1982 World Assembly on Ageing - and endorsed later that year by the UN General Assembly.

In 1991, the General Assembly (by resolution 46/91) adopted the United Nations Principles for Older Persons.

In 2002, the Second World Assembly on Ageing adopted the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, to respond to the opportunities and challenges of population ageing in the 21st century and to promote the development of a society for all ages.

The theme of the 2015 commemoration is “Sustainability and Age Inclusiveness in the Urban Environment”.

Living up to the Secretary-General's guiding principle of "Leaving No-One Behind" necessitates the understanding that demography matters for sustainable development and that population dynamics will shape the key developmental challenges that the world in confronting in the 21st century. If our ambition is to "Build the Future We Want", we must address the population over 60 which is expected to reach 1.4 billion by 2030.

UN 25th International Day of Older Persons: Sustainability and Age Inclusiveness in the Urban Environment

The 2015 celebration of the 25th anniversary of International Day of Older Persons (IDOP), in anticipation of the third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) to be held in 2016, will focus not only on the impact of the new urban environment on older persons, but also the impact of older persons on the new urban environment.

Already, the move of people worldwide to cities is happening at a record pace, with 6 out of every 10 people in the world expected to reside in urban areas by 2030. Consistent with the phenomenon of urbanization, the number of older persons is increasing most rapidly in urban areas of developing countries. The combined effect of both phenomena means that the number of people over 60 living in cities may grow to over 900 million by 2050 – making up a quarter of the total urban population in developing countries .

In principle, these trends offer older persons prospects for improving their quality of life. Well planned cities are more likely to provide income generating and education opportunities, in addition to housing and urban environments that are more accessible and safe for older persons, including the incorporation of age-friendly features in public facilities. This includes access to affordable, reliable, safe and physically accessible transportation, which is one of the cornerstones of older persons’ participation, independence and social inclusion.

The 2015 IDOP celebration seeks to demonstrate that an age inclusive agenda is crucial for sustainable urban environments to promote equity, welfare and shared prosperity for all.

Source: http://www.un.org/en/events/olderpersonsday/

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