Two major socio-demographic changes have contributed to bring about significant changes within the family and are having a major impact on communities throughout India. The first one is the increased longevity of people and the second one is a breakdown of joint family system and the emergence of Nuclear family system of the west. Industrialization, westernization and globalization are the major factors responsible for the breakdown of joint family system. Due to harvest failure, slowdown of employment opportunities in the agriculture sector leads to migration of young people in search of livelihood and thus to the crisis on the care of the aged people. Increased individualization and new technologies are also leading for marginalization of the senior citizens and, unfortunately, today they are considered as a social burden.
Arthritis, hypertension, hearing impairment, defective vision, diabetes and varicose veins are among the usual diseases faced by elders. These chronic diseases tend to occur more in women and tend to increase with age. Use of Tobacco and alcoholism are more among Dalits, Tribals and among urban slum dwellers. Illiteracy and poverty leads to more chronic diseases like tuberculosis, HIV / AIDS, Dengu fever, malaria, typhoid etc.
The hot summer is a big problem for the elders. Usually during summer April to June of every year the hot is 40 °C to 45 °C. The elders cannot withstand during the hot summer. Every year in the month of May, the number of deaths, caused by sunstroke is more among elders than the youngsters. More over the elderly people’s diseases like nutritional disorder, cancer, tuberculosis, glaucoma and cataract will be further aggravated in summer among elders.
Most of the poor old age people have nutritional deficiencies which includes the problem like iron deficiency, protein deficiency, calcium deficiency, blindness caused by vitamin A deficiency, anemia etc.
The aged people are financially bankrupted since their assets, properties and all their wealth are legally transferred to their children so Elderly people do not have the emergency fund available to meet their basic needs which includes descent burial.
In Indian society, the men and women entered in to their marital life earlier than the west. So, the elders arrange their marriage in early twenties. In South Tamil Nadu and Kerala, the marital age is late twenties and early thirties due to their improved educational status. Indian couples’ marriage is completed only after the child birth. So, immediately after marriage, they go for child birth. It is a social necessity. So, in fifties, all their children are married and have grandchildren.
In such situation, the elders have the social responsibility and moral responsibility to register all their assets/ properties etc., legally to their children and transfer their wealth. So all those who have no monthly pension on their retirement have to depend on their children for their basic needs. The Helpage India has conducted a survey and the survey finding was published in October 1, 2012 on the International day of elders. That has mentioned that the dependency of elders to the youngsters is 4 to 6% in other countries in other countries, where as in India, it is32%.
The violence against elders in Tamil Nadu is 28%, 80% elders, never revealed the ill-treatment and violence posed by their children to the public.
Mostly uneducated, landless and assetless and the society will not allow keeping any portion of wealth with him at the time of partition.
The elders who do not have male children and assets on their name normally benefit from the Government of Tamil Nadu of a free one pair of dress during Tamil New Year (Pongal) and a distribution of Rs.1000 / per month as elders’ pension. But they have great difficulties to get them and very often their pension is violently taken back by their children / care takers. And, moreover, the government officials do not support their claims and their paying capacity is very less in availing benefits from Government.
Finally, they suffer of isolation and alienation from the village initiatives leading to loneliness and psychological disorders.