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‘Standing Against Elder Abuse’ is A short video by Reaping Hope to mark the 9th World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2014.

Elder abuse is a major problem today, not just because of its severity but also because most of these cases are hidden. A large number of senior citizens face abuse everyday either one way or the other. And most of the abusers are none other than their own family members. The voices of senior citizens are not heard because they are unable to stand up on their own and now it’s time we raise our voices against elder abuse. This is a call to all youths to unite and stand against elder abuse, a request to initiate small steps to minimize abuse happening daily, knowingly or unknowingly. Know that your parents/grandparents and any other senior citizens are an important part of the society and help them live a dignified life in their golden years.

 

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Last week a report on the ageing people ranked Nepal 77th among 91 countries, indicating it as one of the worst places to grow old.

The Global Age Watch Index, the first of its kind, which claimed to have covered 89 percent of the population above 60 years of age worldwide, showed that Nepal is yet to improve its services in health care in order to create a suitable environment for old people.

The survey, conducted by HelpAge International, an INGO, and supported by the United Nations Population Fund, puts Sweden as the best place for ageing people followed by Norway, Germany, Netherlands and Canada. The United States of America got eighth position while India holds 73rd rank.

Afghanistan, the survey shows, is the worst place for older people. The survey looked into 13 indicators in the four domains: income security, health status, employment and education, and enabling environment. Among the indicators, pension income coverage, poverty rate in old age, relative welfare of older people and GDP per capita are looked into income security while life expectancy at 60, healthy life expectancy at 60 and psychological wellbeing are under health status. Similarly, employment of older people and their education status are looked into while social connections, physical safety, civic freedom and access to public transport were kept in mind under the enabling environment.

We can break down these numbers and view them in terms of programmes aimed at the elderly population. In terms of government services, the retirement age in Nepal differs from profession to profession—58 years for civil service holders, 60 for teachers, maximum of 65 for judges, among others. Then they are eligible for pension.

For those who are not pensioners, they are eligible for state allowances. The government provides Rs 500 per month for people who are above 70 years while the age bar is 60 for old people in Karnali and the Dalits.

“Studies on old age and the security system carried out so far show that living standards often decline for people at old age. Reduced economic opportunities and deteriorating health status frequently increase their risk of vulnerability to poverty as people age,” a 2012 report on Assessment of Social Security Allowance Programme in Nepal reads. “The absence of resources or income sources increases the risk of individuals, households and communities falling below the poverty line due to insufficient consumption and access to basic services. For those who are already below the poverty line, the absence of an income source increases the risk to remain in or to fall further into poverty.”

However, this scheme has been frequently criticised for lacking transparency in the fund distribution. “The allowances have been a great relief to the people. But how many of them are benefiting remains largely unknown,” said Krishna Murari Gautam, chairman of Ageing Nepal, an NGO working for the rights of old people.

Gautam said 21 cases of hurdles in allowance distribution were reported in 2012, which is just a tip of the iceberg. Among the reports, many dealt with the VDC secretary forging signatures of the elderly to pocket their allowances.

This programme was introduced in 1995 as a political agenda to buy votes. This was widely popular and was hence continued. The sum of money has also increased from Rs 100 to Rs 500 over the years. The scheme was widely misused during the insurgency period when the VDC secretaries, who are responsible for the allowance distribution, were never present in the localities.

“Despite problems in implementation, our social security scheme of providing old age allowances has been received well by the international community as it is universal for people above age 70,” said Sangita Niroula, country director of HelpAge International Nepal.

In terms of health care, the government has recently initiated geriatric care centres at the hospitals. This, however, is yet to be effective. Surya Prasad Shrestha, under-secretary at the Ministry of Women Children and Social Welfare, accepted that these centres have not been much effective.

“But the initiation is for a noble cause and we are also new in the area,” said Shrestha. He said that they have been slowly piloting the establishment of day care centres and studying land right issues.

According to the National Population and Housing Census (2011), there are 2,154,410 senior citizens who are above 60 in the country. They make eight percent of the population.

 Source:  The Kathmandu Post (Nepal) October 8th, 2013

Compiled by : Manisha Shrestha

 

 

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