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food for thought

Arecent survey carried out by HelpAge in 10 cities across the country has revealed the extent of abuse against elderly people. Back in 2014, a HelpAge survey had focused on elders — the shocking picture which emerged then was that half the elderly respondents reported suffering abuse, that too at the hands of their sons and daughters-in-law. Therefore HelpAge this time sought responses from young people, to get the other side of the picture. About 73 percent of respondents admitted that elder abuse exists, whether among their relatives, friends or neighbours. The abuse is mostly in the form of abusive language and talking rudely to an elder, or giving them the silent treatment, isolating them and subjecting them to emotional abuse. The most common reason for elder abuse was stated to be property and inheritance dispute, though attitudinal and relationship issues were also cited by many respondents. To prevent such abuse, nearly 60 percent young respondents said they were willing to intervene directly by talking to the abuser to change behaviour, and talking to the abused to fight back. So what should the elderly victim do? Interestingly, over two-third young respondents felt elders should stay social and active, while nearly one-third said they should keep their finances organized. Surely this survey among young people should give elders considerable food for thought. Facing age-related health issues in their twilight years, they would still need to resolve every day to be as fit as they can, watch what they are eating — and keep in touch with near and dear ones, if necessary through phone and social media. But financial security is of utmost importance to the elderly. Only a small proportion of them get government pension, so others need to have alternative options. There are several financial instruments in the market that offer pension facilities, while banks may offer schemes like reverse mortgage to help an elderly owner mortgage his or her home to the bank, and thereby get an assured income till death while staying at home. Such protective measures for old age should begin in youth, because that is where everyone is headed.