Overcoming Social Isolation of Older People in India

Celine Thomas is from Ottawa and is finishing her degree in International Development and Management at McGill University. Following graduation, Celine plans to work in the field of youth and education programming, both in Canada and abroad.

In her essay, Overcoming Social Isolation of Older People in India, Celine Thomas argues that India’s changing family and social structures have made the country’s seniors more vulnerable to social isolation, and that new national policies must be considered to help mitigate it.

As Celine writes, India is home to one-eighth of the world’s population over 60. This amounts to approximately 98 million elderly people, with that number expected to rise to 240 million by 2050. While the majority of this population still live with their adult children in multi-generational homes, as is customary, the rising employment of women and migratory work patterns have made it more difficult for families to care for their elders. This has resulted in a new phenomenon of old age residences in India’s cosmopolitan centres.

However, Celine points out that India lacks a comprehensive social welfare system to support its poor and middle-income seniors, or coherent national policies that address the country’s growing ageing population and shifting family living patterns. Meanwhile, old age residences in India are not properly regulated to ensure adequate living conditions and opportunities for residents to build and maintain strong social bonds.

Celine, therefore, argues that the Indian government should provide more support for old age residences, pension plans, and non-governmental programs that support the country’s older population. She further argues that the government should work with practitioners to help provide a social space within and outside old age residences for seniors to interact and connect with the surrounding community.


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