One of the most significant yet most neglected sections of Indian society is the elderly. This part of society consists of people above the age of 60, retired, senior citizens, super senior citizens, and older adults. There has been a significant increase in the population of this part of society. This means there is an urgent need to fulfill the basic requirements of the segment like finance, healthcare, and shelter care and empower them to handle the challenges.
With the rapid increase in the growth rate of the population of senior citizens, there is also a major societal transformation happening in our society. There is an enormous rise in the number of nuclear families and massive change in the culture that once boasted of the joint family system. Amidst all the changes, the senior citizens or aged parents are suffering the most. Due to hectic lifestyle, it often happens that youngsters fail to socialize and fulfill the needs of the elderly. Many times, elderly either isolate themselves or become a victim of elder abuse. Meanwhile, India being a developing nation may not be able to cope with this transition and the government may not be able to meet the needs of social and economic security of this vast section that is predicted to comprise of whopping 20% of Indian population by the year 2050. Hence, a collaboration between governmental and non-governmental agencies is deemed to be a perfect alliance to work towards the common goal—empower, respect, care, and enrich the elderly of India.
In the past few decades, the government has initiated several programs for the welfare and assistance of older persons. At the same time, many non-governmental organizations for the elderly people have emerged to play a significant role in voicing out the issues concerning and threatening this precious section of society. With constant efforts, these non-profit organizations have brought to light several socio-economic and health concerns that older people of the society fall victim to at large. The core objective of most of the NGOs and charity is the upliftment of senior citizens. Their mission is to spread social awareness and create a society which is hospitable and obliging to older persons. They aim to transform the social attitudes of generations and create a respectable and honorable environment for senior citizens. Meanwhile, it aims to assist and provide a dignified and fulfilling life to the underprivileged and disadvantaged aged persons. Before we shed light on the role of NGOs in India when it comes to empowering senior citizens, let’s understand what NGO in India is.
What is a Non-Governmental Organization?
Over the past few years, the role of NGOs in India has become quite prominent. Many NGOs have emerged to contribute to the overall development of Indian society. In simple terms, NGO is any non-profit organization that operates independently of the government. Its core objective is to address any social, economic, environmental or political issue that is a threat to society.
These NGOs provide a range of services. Functions of NGO in India is based on its core mission. Many NGO of India works to promote the welfare of disadvantaged, assist the underprivileged and empower the needy.
Importance of NGO for Elder Care
Old age is inevitable and so are the issues that come with it. As we age there are changes in our hormones, health, appearance, mental capacity, financial stability, and emotional state. Due to fading physical health, aged are considered more vulnerable to medical conditions, fall, injury, and even mental disability. Thus, they are in dire need of proper health care and emotional support. At times, the younger generation fails to fulfill these requirements which leads to problems within the families causing a greater impact on their mental and physical health. Thus, to provide them with adequate support and essential facilities, NGOs play an important role. They offer various types of services, proper care, economic needs, medical treatment, legal assistance for property disputes, and more.
Most of the people working in the NGO are volunteers and have a great understanding of the issues of this challenged segment of society. These people are trained well to take care of the elderly people and provide them with what is missing in their life. They also offer services that include health care, income generation, and subsistence training.
In addition, NGO working for the elderly actively participate in activities that are exclusively for the welfare and enrichment of the weak segments of the society. Since the government has limited funding and resources, the non-governmental organizations take initiatives, sometimes individually or sometimes in coalition with the governmental agency, to develop programs addressing these issues.
The National Policy of Older Persons by the Government of India, 1999 envisages promotion and assistance of voluntary organization for providing non-institutional services and maintenance of old age homes, and planning services like daycare, shelter home, supply aids and occasional visits by social workers.
Non-Governmental Organizations for the Elderly People in India
There are several NGOs working for elderly people in India. Consider a few prominent ones, below.
This is one of the most prominent NGO for old-age people. Registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1960, HelpAge India was formed in 1978 and has been committed to providing care and support for the elderly for more than four decades. Their programs are carried out in large scale in alliance with partner agencies. For its excellent work, the organization has received laurels from United Nations.
2.The International Longevity Centre-India:
This is a non-profit organization that has dedicated its efforts in the areas of education and training of the weaker section and aging population. Its main role is to research, advocate and understand population aging at all levels.
3.Age Care India:
In 1980, Age-Care India was formed to promote the welfare of the Aged People of India. It is a Non-political, Non-profit, Secular, Charitable, Educational, Cultural and Social Welfare Organization under the Societies Registration Act XXI of 1860. Irrespective of caste, color, and creed, this organization advocates the right of elderly to live a happy and dignified life. They often set up free health check-up camps and clinics. They have a daycare center and arrange spare-time employment opportunities for healthy retired people.
4.All India Senior Citizens’ Confederation – AISCCON:
It is the largest national network for senior citizens. It is committed to research, inform and advocate issues concerning senior citizens and the development of this part of society.
Besides the above mentioned, there is Anugraha India, Dignity Foundation, Agewell Foundation, Silver Innings Foundation, Harmony, and more. The work of these organizations in their respected fields is commendable. They have identified several socio-economic issues and with their initiatives provided solutions. However, there is an urgent need for change in the social attitude of society. General population must learn to consider elder care as a key elemental role of the society and contribute to the cause. There is a dire need of transition in the mindsets in order to provide senior citizens with the quality of life that they deserve. So, if you have an elderly in your family and neighborhood, you must consider yourself responsible for his well being. Or else, these NGOs provide an amazing opportunity to everyone to work for the society or a social cause.