Covid-19 should force India to think about its elderly population

We need a more productive dialogue among the elderly, their associations, civic bodies, urban designers and health care leaders on how we can have a long-term, partnered, inclusive and holistic care approach for the elderly

10 Oct 2020 |  38

In the last six months, Covid-19 has exposed the collective neglect and ignorance on how we take care of our elderly. While certain mitigating measures have been put in place, this would be an opportune time to consider a fundamental shift in re-imagining elderly care. The western model of moving older people to specialised care homes is being re-examined as such communities in the United States (US) and Europe have become epicentres of Covid-19-related fatalities. This is despite such facilities having high-grade infrastructure, trained personnel and proper safety protocols. A recent article by Dileep Mavalankar and Jallavi Panchamia of the Indian Institute of Public Health, Gandhinagar, in these pages, focused on India’s old age homes which seem to have staved off the coronavirus so far. But, as rightly pointed out by the authors, more data-based and scientific research needs to be done to study the full impact of Covid-19 in old age homes. The Association of Senior Living India (ASLI), an industry body representing senior care in India, has played a vital role in allowing members to share information, and learn from best practices on how the senior living industry can manage better infection control and Covid-support systems. Of the 110 million elderly population in India, not more than a few thousand stay in senior living/old age homes. Over 99% either stay alone or with their children and most want to remain in their homes. It is important to find ways to empower older people to continue to live safe, secure, healthy and engaged lives in the place they love the most — their home.

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