In a study funded by United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA) on Punjab elderly (60 plus), it has been found that almost 11% of them are abused.
The study, which has been conducted by the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID), Chandigarh, on behalf of UNPFA, by taking a sample of 1,140 elderly households, shows that about 6% of elderly men and women have experienced verbal abuse within the family, while less than 2% have faced either physical or economic abuse, disrespect and neglect in the family. Around 3% of the elderly reported experiencing verbal abuse outside the family.
The study, which will be released on Monday, says that nearly 70% of the elderly had not attended any public meeting in the year preceding the survey, the proportion being higher among the urban elderly (78.5 %) as compared to their rural counterparts (65.6%). The percentage of women not attending public meetings is much higher than men in both rural and urban areas.
Mental health and hospitalisation
About 18% men and 25% women demonstrated worse psychological conditions in the GHQ (General Health Questionnaire) scale. The burden of mental distress is found to be almost similar for rural and urban locations; however, better psychological health is noted among the elderly who are currently married as compared to the widowed.
Mostly (75%) health treatment was sought from private sources, compared to 24% from government sources. A huge difference was seen between the average expenditure towards hospitalisation costs between government facilities (Rs 5,571) and private hospitals (Rs 13,401). "The large difference in costs incurred for hospitalised treatment across private and government hospitals is a cause of concern for the elderly in Punjab," says the study.
Health insurance schemes and other facilities
The coverage of the elderly under any health insurance schemes in the state is almost negligible - 0.08% in government assisted and 0.05% in private schemes. As far as Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) is concerned, the study shows only 2.7% of elderly are aware of it and 1.2% of them are registered under it. A few elderly are taking advantage of train ticket concessions, bus seat reservations, preference for telephone connections, higher bank interest rate, etc.
Work participation and income
The work participation rate in Punjab among the elderly is 21% with 38% men and 5% women currently working. "Almost half of the elderly men in the age group 60-69 are currently working. However, 9% continue to work even beyond the age of 80 which highlights the severe economic constraints for the elderly in the state, forcing them to work even in their old age," says the study.
About 45.4% elderly women and 18.8% elderly men do not have any source of income and 26.5% of them do not own any asset.
As per Census 2011, Punjab has the fourth highest percentage of elderly population at 10.3% - 28.7 lakh. Kerala tops the chart with 12.6% percentage of population while Himachal Pradesh is fifth with 10.2%.
As per the study in Punjab, more than 80% of the elderly men and women are residing with their spouses, children and grandchildren and other relatives. Overall, nearly 3% of the elderly are staying alone.