Health and health care of elderly living alone in India: an urgent need for public support system
Sutapa Agrawal, Epidemiologist, SANCD
More than 100 million population (8% of total population) in India are elderly, higher than the combined population of UK and Canada. Paper highlights the health and health care of elderly in India according to living arrangement by analyzing 39,694 elderly data from NFHS-2. Overall 3% of total elderly are living alone in India, 1.7% men and 4.5% women. Significant variations in morbidity among the elderly exist with respect to living arrangement and gender. Female elderly living alone has worst health status but males are more prone to environmental and nutritional risk. Also, elderly living alone have poorer treatment seeking behaviour than elderly living with family. In India, there are no conscious policies and programmes directed towards elderly living alone. Given the shrinking family support system, the findings call for urgent health care strategies and a strong public support system to cater the health needs elderly living alone in India.