What do the current statistics suggest– In India the elderly is divided into three categories: the young old (60-70) the middle-aged old (70-80) and the oldest old (80 plus). And by 2050 these three categories of elderly will together constitute one fifth of the total population. The increasing population of the elderly is a development concern that warrants priority attention for economic and social policies to become senior citizen-friendly, the report said. The very old in the age band of 80- plus are prone to ailments like Dementia, Sundowner’s Syndrome, Alzheimer’s , Parkinson which don’t need hospitalisation but advanced care and monitoring at home
What do the independent reports say – A helpage india report revealed that among the elderly, the greatest expectation from the state is that of free medical treatment followed by healthcare.A recent report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) shows India has no long-term care workers for people who are 65 years and older.
Options available with the elderly Be financial independent along with adequate health cover / have pension annuity along with assisted care at home . Assisted living in communities which have similar profile and age. people living in close community with supporting facilities and recreational and medical support.
Financial and health products available for elderly
1. Insurance Cover / pension for elderly. The needs of the old are diverse but the focus is on income and health because these are areas that insurance can address. An essential insurance to guarantee old age income is immediate annuity or pension. In this, a person makes one payment in return for a lifetime of assured income. In India, the immediate annuity earns a mere 9% interest and that too the income is taxed and most of the time the principal is not returned to the nominee.
In the US, a comparable annuity pays 5-6% per year, which is about five times the fixed deposit rate as it boils down to pure economics. Insurers aggressively sell annuities because it counterbalances insurance risk. The risk of dying early in insurance is hedged by the risk of living too long in annuities.
2. Reverse mortgage of house To get the reverse mortgage product right requires real estate, insurance and banks to work together. It is an effort worth making. But in India the system doesn’t work as all these 3 parties should work in tandem.
3. Health Cover The most common chronic diseases for elderly are related to the heart, urinary tract, diabetes, hypertension, joints and ulcers; broadly in that order. Treatment for most of these is home-based and not hospitalization. So, regular health insurance does not cover these situations. One idea is to mandate a portion of pension to be used for health insurance. Insurers should consider introducing long-term care insurance that pay for nursing care and assistance.
Health covers for senior citizens offered by Insurance companies – Some insurance companies have designed policies to cater to the needs of senior citizens. These policies typically cover both hospitalisation and domiciliary hospitalisation (critical ailments wherein the patient is bedridden but not hospitalised for certain reasons). Some insurers offer policies renewable up to the age of 75 years, provided the insured had bought the policy before the age of 55. The longer period for which a senior citizen cover lasts, the better it is.
Community Living for Elderly These resident-created retirement solutions, or intentional communities, are taking different forms, from shared homes to cohousing communities to “pocket neighborhoods” of people who choose to live in the same area and watch out for each other, which includes cooking and doing errands together and taking care of neighbours when they are sick .
Conclusion – An ageing population tends to have a higher prevalence of chronic diseases, physical disabilities and mental illnesses. The health needs and health related problems of elderly people cannot be viewed in isolation. A wide gamut of determinants such as 1. Poor knowledge and awareness about the risk factors; 2. Food and nutritional requirements; psycho-emotional concerns (viz. isolation, mental stress, difficulty in keeping themselves occupied); 3. Financial constraints ( definite reduction in income upon retirement, to the extent that it may interfere with bare needs of life as adequate nutrition, clothing and shelter); 4. Health-care system factors and physical correlates determine the medical problems and thus cast a significant impact on the quality-of-life of the elderly.Few of the Assisted living – Day Care and Geriatic care centres in India