Fate of elderly reflects a sad reality of modern India: Experts

Bhubaneswar: Communication between younger and older generations is the key to successfully encouraging children to connect with their elders. When older and younger people form meaningful relationships, it improves both groups’ well-being. Young people can help seniors avoid isolation and loneliness while seniors can provide years of wisdom, said Professor Annapurna Pandey of University of California, Santa Cruz here in Utkal University on Wednesday.
Speaking at an International Workshop on “Elderly and Exclusion: A Way Forward to Inclusion” organised by Department of Sociology & Department of Anthropology with support from World Bank- OHEPEE (Odisha Higher Education Program for Excellence and Equity) in Utkal University, she said older persons are often vulnerable to exclusion, marginalization and discrimination.
Citing the incident of Haridwar in Uttarakhand where the parents of a couple moved a local court suing their only son and his wife for not giving them a grandchild after six years of marriage, she said the collapse of the joint family system is the main cause for the present scenario. Parents are concerned only about the education of their children. They have forgotten that it is also their duty to impart social and family values in the minds of children, she added.
Addressing the gathering, Vice-Chancellor Prof. Sabita Acharya said situation of elderly women is completely different from urban, rural and tribal areas. More and more senior citizens are moving into old-age homes in cities as they are abandoned by their sons and daughter-in-laws. Now-a-days children do not want to take care of their dependent parents. On the other side, tribal people stay with their parents and their society is far better than rural and urban, she said.
Expressing his concern, Chairman of PG Council Prof. Durga Shankar Pattanaik said drastic change of lifestyle is a reason for this neglected senior citizens. Health problems are another major issue that leads to neglect of the elderly by adult children. While most of the people do not live a healthy life, urban people suffer from mental health issues. The need and practice of respecting and caring the elderly should be inculcated in the younger generation, he said.
Coordinator of WB- OHEPEE Prof. Nigamananda Das said though technologies are really good at sustaining relationships when there’s distance involved, human communication is very important for elderly people. Awareness should be created among youth on elder abuse in India, he suggested.
Head of Sociology department Prof. Navaneeta Rath introduced the guests while, Associate Professor of Anthropology department Dr. Kanhu Charan Satapathy gave the vote of thanks.
In a technical session chaired by Associate Professor of Sociology Dr. Rabindra Garada, panelists Prof. Pandey and Chairperson of KIIT International School Dr. Monalisa Bal spoke on social exclusion of the elderly. Associate Professor of Anthropology Dr. Prasanna Kumar Patra gave a presentation on ‘Elderly and Exclusion’.
Among others, Associate Professor of Anthropology Dr. Suresh Chandra Murmu and Assistant Professor Dr. Priyanka Khurana were present.

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