The Top 8 Civic Issues That Senior Citizens Face In Urban India

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Here are the top 8 civic issues that senior citizens across the metro cities in the country face. Here is all you need to know about these issues and how to address them. 

The urban senior population across the metro cities of India is plagued with a large number of civic concerns that need to be addressed soon. In Mumbai, a study was recently conducted to identify the major civic issues a senior citizen in urban India faces. The menace of traffic and garbage, ill-kept roads and footpaths, lack of assistance in public utility spaces and the rapid rise in pollution have become a major concern for urban seniors.

Sailesh Mishra, the founder of Silver Innings, a community dedicated to senior citizens in India, who was a part of the study conducted in Mumbai, shared with Silver Talkies the top eight civic concerns that the urban senior population is facing at present.

Transportation: As the cities are growing, commuting is becoming a major challenge for senior citizens. Public transport facilities in cities like buses, metros and monorails are not elderly-friendly. There are no low-level buses for seniors to climb without difficulty, disabled-friendly buses where the wheelchairs can go up easily. Seniors feel scared to use the escalators and the elevators are generally are crowded.

Traffic: India hardly has a disciplined traffic sense, there are no adequate zebra crossings and almost no one follows traffic rules. Footpaths are not adequate and mostly blocked by vendors and illegal hawkers with hardly any space left for seniors to walk. Senior pedestrians are compelled to walk on the busy roads that often lead to fatal accidents. An increasing number of rowdy two-wheelers on roads has resulted in a spike in the number of road accidents.

Security: Most seniors living in the urban set up are alone with their children settled abroad or near their workplaces. They do not feel secure at homes. While in peripheral cities and in a community living set up, the neighbours are still well-connected, there is no one in the huge urban housing complexes to keep an eye on the safety of senior citizens. There is no proper security management system and policing and the crime rates against seniors are increasing with every passing day. Installation of CCTV camera in the buildings are really not enough.

Tax filing: Having to travel to municipal offices to file property tax becomes a huge burden for seniors as many of them are living alone in the cities. Neither are some of them well-versed with the digital procedures of tax filing. It is the need of the hour for municipal corporations to come up with an initiative where door-step tax collection can be ensured, at least for those who cannot walk and move out of their homes. Also, water, property and other taxes are going higher day by day, making it extremely difficult for the seniors to manage finance, especially post-retirement.

Health: Earlier, we were used to the concept of family physician who knew the whole history and visits the patients at home for a check-up. Now that this concept is no more common, the seniors feel helpless as they have to travel to the clinic in case of a medical emergency. Commuting to the clinic becomes a headache for seniors. Also, very few hospitals have senior-exclusive desks to handhold the seniors when they visit the hospitals. Steps should be taken to make hospital visits for seniors hassle-free.

Shelter: About 8 to 10 per cent of the homeless who live on the streets of Mumbai city are seniors and unfortunately, they do not have a place to take shelter at night. Some provisions should be made to provide them with a roof during the night like a big community hall where they can come and sleep at night and go away to do whatever they do in the morning.

Infrastructure woes are greater for Indian senior citizens

Boredom and loneliness: The seniors live a lonely life in urban spaces. Hardly anything happens for seniors in the city. Loneliness results in several mental problems like depression, dementia and more. We need to have adequate care centres, recreational facilities, parks, small movie theatres, satsangs where they can go out and socialise. Housing societies can involve seniors in cultural activities and cleanliness drives and make them feel included. Social engagement clubs for like-minded seniors work wonders in keeping the young-at-heart silvers engaged in fun-filled activities. That’s what Silver Talkies has been doing over the years. Want to become a Silver Talkies member? Click here to know.

Lack of elder-friendly infrastructure: Public utility places like railway stations, bus stands, banks, municipal offices and even religious places are not elder-friendly. There are steep staircases, slippery tiles, no railings and adequate reservations for senior citizens.

Vasanti Sundaram, 60, an author from Bangalore says: “Commuting through the nasty traffic of Bangalore is one of the topmost worries for seniors. Even if we plan way ahead to reach a hospital or a clinic on time, there is always some horror waiting on the road. The condition of the roads is such that the seniors are always at a greater risk of spraining their ankles or hurting their limbs. On road, you are mostly greeted with the garbage littered everywhere. The pollution levels are so high that seniors are falling sick too often. There are hardly any facilities for those who are disabled. These are clear signs of the breakdown of civil society and all these arise from the lack of empathy for senior citizens. Bangalore is becoming the land of the millennials and in the process of attracting youth, the city is gradually forgetting about its senior population.”

Misra believes that while it is the government’s responsibility to make a senior citizen live a comfortable, secure and dignified life, addressing these issues requires a multi-disciplinary approach. NGOs, resident welfare associations, governing bodies, legal bar council, architect council, the civil society and education institutes must join hands to come up with flexible policies and guidelines to cater to the civic needs of senior citizens which vary from neighbourhood to neighbourhood and state to state.

Click here to know about the effective steps being taken by countries across the globe to safeguard the lives of senior citizens. 

About Author

Sreemoyee Chatterjee

Sreemoyee Chatterjee is the content head of Sliver Talkies. A curious and talkative storyteller, she loves spending time with and working for the older adults and getting the best for them. Sreemoyee has served as a correspondent and on-field reporter for 4 years. A classical dancer and thespian by passion, she spends her leisure by writing poetry, scripts for stage theatres and listening to countryside music.