POST TIME: 3 November, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Rights of senior citizens

Rights of senior citizens

According to a recent report published in this newspaper, speakers at discussion meeting in the northern district of Rajshahi stressed protecting senior citizens of Bangladesh. We have always spoken about the importance of sharing experience and skills of older citizens with different generations of the present time, taking proper care and more steps to improve their life standard to pay due honour to them. Unfortunately most of the elderly people in Bangladesh suffer from basic human problems, such as poor financial support, chronic diseases and absence of proper health and medicine facilities, exclusion and negligence, deprivation and socio-economic insecurity. The degree and extent of these vulnerabilities would likely intensify in near future, due to the faster pace of ageing, as well as the breaking down of the traditional family and community-based care system.

The old age allowance programmes are mainly focused on rural areas. At the current pace of urbanisation the number of poor elderly persons residing in urban areas is growing rapidly. We should include these people in the social security schemes.

It is vitally important to initiate separate budgets for the ageing population in Bangladesh, to not only provide assistance but also reap the benefits of a second demographic dividend. The second demographic dividend results from an increase in adult longevity, which causes individuals to save more in preparation for old age. This increase in savings can thus contribute to capital accumulation and economic growth.

During the 1970s the average lifespan of Bangladeshis was less than 50 which has now increased to well over 70. So now the country is faced with a large number of aged populations that we need to take care of. The increase in ageing demographic is taking place at a time when the pattern of life is changing, kinship bonds are weakening and the family composition is undergoing a rapid transformation. Due to various factors, traditional extended family and community care systems are breaking down. If we don't act now with concrete strategies, the elderly might find themselves in a perilous situation.

To better prepare ourselves for the challenges that come with an ageing population, it must be acknowledged that it is an issue not separate from social inclusion, gender parity, economic advancement or poverty. Just as women, children and persons with disabilities are more severely affected in disaster and crisis, so are the elderly. Active measures must be taken to socially integrate them and special programmes designed to accommodate their needs.