Elderly Care: A Burning Issue


Keshar Raj Pageni


The Elderly is the fastest growing population in the world which has affected each and every society extremely in different ways and it has become very difficult to manage in the family and the government as well. Moreover, it is a burning issue in the context of Nepal.

In Nepal, elderly people are defined as those above 60 years of age as per the WHO definition and they are addressed as Senior Citizens according to the Senior Citizen Act, 2063 BS. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), the number of older people has been rising towards the peak which can be displayed in every census. The total population of Nepal is estimated at 30,210,353 by the year 2021. The population of 60 years and above is estimated to be 3,128,228 indicating 10.4% of the total population. This data also clarifies the growing number of elderly in our country. It is said that the children below 15 years and elders over 65 years is called the inactive population for economy and development who depend on adults for their living, but due to external and internal migration and brain drain problem especially in poor, underdeveloped and developing countries like African and South Asian countries, the life of them has become worse, and no less. On the other hand, life expectancy is going up higher than that of other neighboring countries (Asia-Pacific HDR, 2012) due to diverse facilities and technological advancement in different sectors such as education, health, transportation, electricity, communication, and so on. They are living longer; in opposition to this getting less care which is most essential and compulsory for them.

Nepal lies in the eastern belt of the earth which is the motherland of Lord Buddha, who is called the “Light of Asia.” Not only this it is the host country of the highest peak of the world, Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest), People of the world know the citizens of this state as amiable, friendly, cooperative, helpful, courageous, and kind but due to the modernization of culture, almost all the youths have forgotten the concept of guest as the god of the nation and all these things have been at risk and rarely people are conscious about it. Acculturation has taken part and the youths have been pre-occupied by daydreams of migrating to Europe, Australia, and Canada, especially to the USA affected by the American Dream and its materialism and so on. They solely think for earning money and are ready to do anything for money: deceiving friends, killing them, quarreling with family members, knocking parents out of home and keeping them at elderly homes, and even murdering them for the property. What a pitiless condition the elderly people getting after a long struggle of life who did everything for their children and who hoped them as their assistance at old age.  In this way, they have been forgetting their responsibility towards their gods and goddess who showed them this world.

If we talk about the responsibility of the government, the government of 2052 BS initiated the old Age Allowance, which was the best step for the welfare of the elderly people, is insufficient. Some acts and policies have been formed in favor of old age people, but these have not been implemented properly. Concessions in hospitals, public vehicles, and facilities in governmental offices have been matters of debate for the intellectuals and newspapers, but no achievement has become possible by the old age movement. Political leaders have been utilizing them as powerful decisive voters. The elderly people belong to political parties, which always remain in the bureaucracy, and the government and the family members of political parties almost all enjoy the rights of elderly people provided by the government, these same rights have become the fruits of the sky for the poor and needy people. Some of the geriatric centers have been established, whereas there are no decent infrastructures. Some of the geriatric homes are set up and conducted without registration and they have been run in the name of earning dollars. Due to this, it has become a burning issue. According to the research, I have found that after and before the arrival of democracy almost all the prime ministers are from elderly people. The power and authority, which was in elderly people’s hands and still is in them ignored in the past and neglecting the issues of geriatric people at present, too. Why? There might be two reasons: 1) To them who got the power, everything has been managed by the government, or 2) They were not sincere to the issues and problems of elderly people.
So, in this difficult circumstance, if all the concerned authorities and related family members are inattentive towards this problem, it can hinder the overall development of the nation. Finally, the nation can always be back warded and it can be declared as a failure.