India not only has the second largest global ageing population, but it also stands third amongst the countries with the highest rate of loneliness in older adults, according to a global survey. In fact, a study by PAN Healthcare found that over 64% of the elderly in India suffer from loneliness, with this condition being worse in urban regions.
What makes a majority of India’s senior citizens vulnerable to loneliness? The increasing likelihood of being widowed or isolated from family, the growing technology barrier, retirement from work and lack of engaging activities, limited mobility and lack of socialisation with the younger generation are just some reasons. It is noted that 5.7% of senior citizens in India live alone, without the support of family or friends.
Loneliness and social isolation cut across all socio-economic strata of the society, from destitute elderly to urban privileged classes. What makes it a significant issue amongst senior citizens is that it can have a serious effect on their overall health and quality of life. In fact, loneliness is counted as a key determinant of cognitive decline and dementia amongst the elderly, apart from increased stress, anxiety and depression.
A recent study conducted by Meerut’s Lala Lajpat Rai Medical College found that elders who live in isolation with no social life are more likely to be sick, which leads to stress and depression. While on the other hand, elders who are active and socially connected, tend to lead healthier lives. It was also found that older women were more likely to be experiencing loneliness than older men, even within active households.
India definitely needs overall improvement in providing access to long-term care and psycho-geriatric services for the elderly individuals living alone or grappling with loneliness. Apart from the government initiating programmes to promote mental and physical health for the elderly, families need to offer better support to the ageing members. Loss of spouse apart, ill treatment and neglect from close family members are primary reasons for depression and loneliness in senior citizens.
As a leading nonprofit organisation for elder care in India, Dignity Foundation focuses on finding and facilitating ways to overcome loneliness amongst the elderly across India. Our elderly loneliness mitigation solutions address the lower socio-economic segment of the society. Four Loneliness Mitigation Centres in Mumbai and Pune support over 270 senior citizens, promoting their positive development through fitness, recreational activities, mental health services and nutrition. Whereas, our 24 Chai Masti Centres across 6 cities in India offer 1000+ middle class senior citizens with a safe and happy space to recreate, bond and explore their talents and hobbies.
For more information about Dignity Foundation’s elderly loneliness mitigation solutions, please call us on +91 22 6138 1100. For further information regarding our other programmes, visit www.dignityfoundation.com/what-we-do