This study was carried out in urban slums of Surat city in Gujarat state of India from January 2007 through September 2008. The study was conducted among elderly people (60 years and above) to know their main life concerns. The questions, validated before preparing interview schedule, were simple and largely close ended. The detailed methodology and analysis would be included in the main paper.
Most people move into old age after a lifetime of poverty, poor nutrition, and healthcare, and years of hard physical labour . Loneliness was the most important life concern of the respondents in this study. Some studies have revealed this earlier . Livelihood, housing, and recreation and entertainment were another life concerns. The respondents were greatly concerned about the demolition threats to their illegal houses. More than 90 per cent of the respondents were concerned of health problems and seeking health care due to poverty and ill health. In public sector health care set up, long queues and difficulty in reaching physician is very cumbersome.
The United Nations principles address the independence, participation, care, self-fulfilment, and dignity of older persons as an ensured priority . Government of India should strictly implement the “Maintenance and welfare of parents and senior citizens bill 2007” to ensure that the beneficiaries get actual dividends of this legal investment. It is imperative to endow with the tailor-made recreational facilities like municipal parks, social clubs and drop-in-centers dedicated to elderly. Municipal efforts to rehabilitate those occupying illegal public land, and staying in poor quality housing should further be reinforced by providing assured low cost housing without fear of being thrown out on roads after demolition of their houses. There is a need to generate political will to understand health issues and life concerns of elderly. Special queue for elderly in health care facilities and geriatric clinics manned by the cadre of specialists/geriatricians is the need of the hour. A policy to commence post-graduate degree and diploma courses on geriatrics in medical schools would be a step forward to generate workforce to deal with geriatric health issues and future faculty to reproduce more experts in the field of comprehensive geriatric medicine.
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3. WHO (1999): United Nations Principles for Older Persons. Geneva: WHO.
Keywords: Life concerns; Elderly; India; Slums
Biography: Dr. Ajay B Pawar is working as Associate Professor in the Department of Community Medicine at a Municipal Medical School in India. He has almost 15 years of experience in undergraduate teaching;community health research; and monitoring and implementation of various national health programmes in India. He has had a number of research publications on his name. Recently an international research publication on social determinants, suboptimal health behavior and morbidity in urban slums in India was published in Journal of Urban Health published by Springer, New York Academy of Medicine.