Legal and social protection of senior citizens

Topics: Old age, Retirement, Human rights Pages: 7 (2108 words) Published: September 21, 2013

VOL 20 NO 157 REGD NO DA 1589 | Dhaka, Friday, January 25 2013 VOL 20 NO 157 REGD NO DA 1589 | Dhaka, Friday, January 25 2013

Legal and social protection of senior citizens
Published : Friday, 25 January 2013
M S Siddiqui

In the sub-continent, Bangladesh being no exception, the system of joint families still survives, and a senior or elderly person is the head of the family. The final decision on any issue like marriage etc usually needs endorsement from the eldest person. Elders are given priority over the younger people in a broader range of social settings. The young people in Bangladesh address any older but unrelated person with formal respect, i.e. even a slightly older person of the same generation may be referred to as an elder brother, or elder sister, while an elderly person may be referred to as 'aunt, 'uncle', 'grandfather' or 'grandmother' whatever seems appropriate.

They have strong family values, with many people living in extended family households - either together or close by - and members are able to draw on each other's resources to meet psychological, social and physical needs. The older persons are still passing their days amidst the tender care and support mostly provided by their extended families in rural societies. 

But due to changes in socio-economic status, there is a rapid change in the urban society, particularly in the middle class, and families are disintegrating. The younger generation prefers the Western style of living away from the parents. They are losing the age-old custom of respect and are also becoming less concerned about the older persons. 

Popularity of the small-family culture, lack of cross-generation interaction, less social interaction with older persons, age discrimination, non-existence of inclusive social security system in Bangladesh, among other South Asian countries, can be cited as the most important reasons for the miserable condition of older persons in our urban areas.

The age-discrimination is a core concern in all societies. Discrimination against people on grounds of age in Bangladesh is growing in a slow pace. 

Persons aged 60 years and above are considered as senior citizens, although the retiring age from any profession as decided by many countries ranges from 59 to 65. 

Socially and economically vulnerable group: The elder population is a fast-growing segment of Bangladesh society nowadays. Every year, approximately 80,000 new older persons enter the group of the older persons who, in general, constitute a socially and economically vulnerable group with the basic needs remaining unmet in many cases. By 2050, it is estimated that the number of people over 60 will be approximately equal to the number of children under 14. The number of people over 75 is increasing faster than any other group. 

The average survival age in Bangladesh has increased to 62 years in the last several decades due to improvement in medical and social services, which has also witnessed decrease in child mortality. About 6 per cent people of the country were above 60 or of higher age in 2006, and it is presumed that the number will go up to 17 per cent in 2050. Thirty-one per cent of the population is living under poverty line. And most of them are living in the rural area having poor health, water, sanitation and other services. Most of the rural people in Bangladesh are suffering from malnutrition. 

Due to physical limitations, millions of the older people across the world pass through chronic poverty, untreated illness, homelessness or inadequate shelter, violence and abuse, lack of education, little or no access to law, fear and isolation. The older people may face difficulties in the following key areas: physical and mental health; community care; social care; housing; transport; employment; income; education and leisure; utilities and consumer protection; access to...
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