The problems of getting old


By Arka Mondal

The recent incidents of crime targeted against senior citizens in metropolis across India, especially in Kolkata, have raised some serious questions about their safety. In the last one year, at least eight elderly citizens have been brutally murdered in Kolkata. The attacks further expose the vulnerability of the aged in a city where more and more youngsters are abandoning their parents in search of a better livelihood.

With the advent of modernity and globalisation and the accompanying phenomena of industrialisation, urbanisation and migration, there has been a gradual dilution of the conventional living style. Number of nuclear families is escalating and more and more elderly are now living alone. This trend is gaining momentum with increase in life expectancy. The perception regarding maintenance of elderly as a pious obligation is also wearing off. Thanks to these changes, the elderly are feeling isolated and are facing numerous other deprivations. They have become soft prey for criminals and elder abuse has become a social menace. Meanwhile, the extraordinary medical triumph has ushered in an unprecedented increase in life expectancy of people in the country. The percentage of 60 plus population in India is on the rise, providing a challenge for their well-being and security as well. The historical cultural tradition of care and respect for the elderly is gradually evaporating due to change in life style and globalisation. In recent time, there has been a spurt in crime against older citizens in the city and across India. Especially, the wealthy senior citizens are more prone to security risks, since they are vulnerable to exploitation, pressure and physical threats for property and financial gain from their children, relatives and other unsocial elements.

Police prescribes that aged people should always avoid going out alone. Even when accompanied by their family members, they should shun heavy jewellery that could lure criminals. Police say, those staying alone in individual houses should desist from keeping valuables and cash and should deposit in safe vaults. Even if one has cash or valuable jewellery at home, it should be the least discussed matter especially before flower vendors, LPG cylinder delivery boys, grocery shop delivery boys, servant maids, laundry boys, cable TV technicians, drivers, electricians and plumbers. While engaging or hiring workers such as drivers and servant maids on a regular basis, senior citizens should insist on getting their photograph and address proof and if required, they could always approach the police for getting their antecedents verified in a discreet manner. Senior citizens should always keep contact with the Station House Officer of the jurisdiction police station and should never hesitate to inform the police of any disturbing trend putting that jeopardises their safety.

However, a united effort from all age groups is needed to lend a helping hand to the elder citizens. There is no denying the fact that it is the effort of these old people who had consolidated the base for us to thrive upon.