Government of India announced the national policy on older persons in 1999 to reaffirm its commitment to ensure the well-being of the older persons in a holistic manner. Reiterating the mandate enshrined in article 41 of the constitution of India, the policy has brought the concern, for older persons on top of the national agenda. The NPOP while promising to safeguard their interest in terms of financial security, health, legal, social and pschycological security, also envisages their productive partnership with them in the process of development by creative opportunities for their gainful engagement and employment. The policy also appreciate the special needs of older persons and therefore lays emphasis on empowerment of community as well as individuals to adequately meet the challenges of the process of ageing. The policy provides the following objective to fulfill the needs of our esteemed senior citizens.

Financial security: Financial security through coverage under old age pension scheme for poor and destitute older persons, better returns on earnings/ savings of government /quasi government employees. Savings in provident funds etc creating opportunities for continued education/skill up gradation ensuring thereby continued employment/self employment and income generation and provision for pension scheme for self employed, employees of the non formal, and nongovernmental sector.

Health security: The NPOP recognizes the special health needs of the older persons to be met through strengthening and reorienting the public health services at primary health care level creation of health facilities, through non-profit organization like trust/charity etc and implementing health insurance.

Shelter: The NPOP provides for earmarking 10% of houses/housing sites in urban as well as rural areas for older persons belonging to the lower income groups, special considerations to the older persons falling in the category of below poverty line and destitute in housing schemes like Indira avas Yojana, loans at reasonable interest rates and easy repayment installment with tax relief and purchase of houses etc

Education: Education information needs of older persons too have been adequately reflected in the national policy. Education/information material relevant to the lives of older persons should be developed and made available through mass media. Education, training and information being the important human requirement, the NPOP provides for proactive role in ensuring the same by disseminating knowledge about the preparation of old age. It is also emphasized for schools to have programme on inter generational bonding.

Welfare: Institutional care has been provided for in the NPOP as the last resort. The care in non-institutional set up i.e., within the family and the community needs to be strengthened and encouraged. This apart, the state should also create infrastructure in partnership with voluntary organizations to provide for poor, destitute and neglected older persons whose care cannot be ensured within the family. This is to be ensured through old age homes and other such institutional facilities that would be needed. Voluntary efforts needs to be encouraged for creating facilities for day care, outreach services, multi service citizen centre etc

Protection: The state has to gear up the security network to save the older persons from criminal offence and police is required to keep friendly vigil. Early settlement of property/inheritance disputes is to be done, safeguards to protect those fraudulent dealings in transfer of property through sale/will are to be put in place and free legal aid and toll free helpline services are to be placed across the country. Maintenance of elderly within family resorting to the provision of law viz., criminal procedure code 1973, Hindu adoption maintenance act 1956 etc., whenever needed is required to be ensured.

Training: The policy lays emphasis on need for trained personnel/care givers. This envisages the training of human resources in the areas like specialization in geriatrics in medical courses, special courses on geriatric care in nursing training, training of social worker especially for this care and professional care givers.

Media: The policy enjoins upon media to take up a special responsibility for the care of older persons. Media is to play a rolling, identifying emerging issues and areas of action, dispelling stereo-types and negative images about the old age, maintaining restraint from creating fear psychosis by responsible reporting, promoting inter generational bonds and informing individuals/families/groups with appropriate information on ageing process.

About Author / Additional Info: