The elderly population is rising globally and similar trends are being observed not only in Asia but also in Pakistan. A developing country facing several challenges in the form of political instability, lack of economic growth, low savings of the elderly, weak pension system, makes life challenging for the elderly. Pakistan’s demographic trends show that between 1990 till 2010, the population aged 60+ years increased by 75.1 %. It is projected that the life expectancy will increase to 72 years by 2023. WHO report (1998) projected that 5.6 % of Pakistan’s population was over 60 years of age, with a probability of doubling to 11 % by the year 2025. Pakistan is a socially cohesive society and elders are valued and respected. It is normally considered to be the responsibility of the eldest son to take care of their parents. In spite of a socially cohesive society in Pakistan, in some segments, norms have been changing and recently, one can notice a clear turn down of the extended family system. Children leave their parents and there is no one who could look after their needs. Consequently, the abandoned parents land up in old homes. With meager resources and a poor understanding of aging; Pakistan faces many challenges in caring as well as provision of facilities for its elderly population. This present report highlights the comparison between the quality of facilities that are provided to older people in home and private or government institutes. Future possibilities for improvement of facilities for the good health and wellbeing of our elderly are also discussed.
Introduction of gerontology
Gerontology is an introduction to the field of human aging. Gerontology is multidisciplinary in nature as all aspects of human aging are viewed in this subject. This means that the study of aging combines information from several separate areas of study. Biology, sociology, and psychology are the “core” or basic areas, along with content from many other areas of study such as public policy, humanities, and economics. Gerontology includes the study of physical, mental, and social changes in older people as they age, the investigation of the changes in society resulting from our aging population as well as the application of this knowledge to policies and programs for the assurance of better quality of life for older people in the community, the state and the nation. Taking care of our elders is an Islamic obligation and also an integral cultural norm in Pakistan. Despite being a socially cohesive society; the decline of extended family systems is evident. This has affected the respected status of the elderly enjoyed in their later years. As nuclear family system is increasing in urban areas, they are unable to take charge of the elderly due to many socio-economic and cultural constraints. So they have begun to seek assistance from formal institutions engaged in elderly care.
Importance of gerontology:
Gerontology is very important as people working in aging report great satisfaction in addressing the challenges of those who are growing older, helping to maintain the quality of their lives, and enjoying the wit, wisdom, and creativity of the older persons with whom they come in contact. Even as a student you can make a difference; your community can benefit from volunteer work you do with older persons. Later, as a professional in the field, you can continue to serve the community as a volunteer, for example, by speaking about various aspects of aging to civic and community groups or teaching in pre-retirement programs. Working in the field of aging provides an opportunity to influence positively the agencies and organizations serving older persons and the legislation and policies that affect their lives. Studying aging also gives you a perspective on your own aging and insight into the aging of your family members.
Review of literature
The older population has been growing at an unprecedented rate. In 1980, just prior to the convening of the First World Assembly on Ageing, there were 378 million people in the world aged 60 years or above. In followed figure has risen to 759 million over the past three decades and is projected to jump to 2 billion by 2050.
Actual and projected global population aged 60 years or over, 1980, 2010 and 2050
Our Religion stresses a lot on the rights of elderly people and we are asked to serve elderly relatives of our parents if parents are not alive. We make fun of the West that they send their parents to “Old Houses” and do not bother to inquire about them. Now if we analyze that what is happening to elderly people especially in the poverty struck rural areas it gives us following haunting facts : – Elderly people die miserably due to lack of food and medical attention. They develop psychotic disorders due to depression and dejection. They develop certain diseases by not eating healthy food which is not providing the necessary multi-vitamins needed to survive in the old age. Employee’s Old age benefits pension money is used by their family members. They have very limited social life.
Lack of religious and basic education deprived them from doing anything useful to pass the time. Children of even well settled families tend to ignore grandparents who just need to share love with them and focus. Sheltered housing provides social contact and a secure environment that appeal to many older people. Sheltered housing has proven to be popular for a minority of people as alternatives to residential care or high intensity old homes. They provide flexible care and 2 accommodation suited to those with mobility problems. Satisfaction levels are high, particularly in relation to access to care and the provision of meals. Housing expectations changed, issues with this form of provision started to emerge in the 1980s. The difficulties identified in the provision of sheltered housing are now well known. A review of the factors leading to difficulties with letting sheltered accommodation (in England and Wales, 1994-5) found that 92% of local authorities and 79% of large housing associations had encountered some difficulty in letting their stock. Furthermore, 8% of local authorities and 14% of housing associations found over half of their traditional sheltered housing units difficult to let (Tinker et al, 1995). Now be somewhat dated, though the issues encountered have been reiterated since then. Following are the old age homes difficulties or issues have been identified: Size of properties was often identified as particularly problematic, with bedsits being the least popular, and single bedroom flats being increasingly seen as too small for older people, particularly couples and those being encouraged to down-size from larger social rented housing.
Access difficulties, particularly where properties are on upper floor without lift access; wheelchair access can also be problematic. Guidance on the development of new sheltered housing in Scotland in 1980 specified that sheltered units should be on ground or first floor, unless a lift was provided (Scottish Development Department, 1980), and this was not revised with more accessible specifications until Housing for Varying Needs was introduced in 1998 (Pickles, 1998). The neighborhoods in which sheltered schemes are located have changed significantly since their initial development, with the closing of local shops and services, and reductions in public transport. They may also now be in areas where other housing and social issues make them unpopular for all tenants, not just older people. The introduction of the European working time directive and other developments in human resources mean that the role of the scheme manager has had to change. This also reflects the changing client group that is living in sheltered housing. The increasing age of residents in sheltered schemes meant that the level of support available from the scheme manager was insufficient, and prior to the developments in widespread community cares and support services, this was a significant issue. Some areas may have an over-provision of sheltered housing units.
Richard and Gill Walker, looks into the social context of housing for aged ones. It covers the demographic material, facts about social framework of old homes for older people. This includes a review of demographic information, evidence relating to the needs, perspectives and choices of the aged people with respect to this housing, along the problems of segregation and marginalization and their impact on their livings. Philip O. Sijuwade did his study about Self-Image of Aged which looks into the different approaches , stereotypes, and age factors which regulates suitable behaviors for the older ones(social image). It states that, old ones have developed their self-image too, which depicts the way they think of themselves and the way ‘others’ think of them. This is based on primary research states that stereotypes have been built about the aged people of the society and they are not treated in the way they deserve to be. Residential satisfaction of the older adults in age-segregated facilities is described by Sandra G. Reynolds and Julia O. Beamish which looks into the housing satisfaction of old home people with liberated living services. Twenty one residents contributed as a focus group and results showed that these old people liked safe and secure atmosphere and value good design, friendly neighborhood, privacy and residential characteristics. G. Clare Wenger and Richard Davis, indicates that main factors of social isolation includes marital status, social interaction, health conditions, behavior of ‘others’, type of networking and loss of mobility.
They conclude nothing could be generalized about it but trends in society have old ones feeling marginalized on this earth. It can vary on according to personal background and situation. In some cases, older ones are forced to live in a residentially segregated area whereas in other cases, aged people are themselves willing to have such segregation. The reasons for which older ones preferred institutional living arrangement are for preservation of dignity and respect, peace of mind, avoidance of familial conflict along with the provision by fulfillment of all basic needs, unwillingness to depend on family members on economic and social basis. One of the famous sociologists Livson conducted a research ,‘The Transition into Retirement and Old Age’ in 1962 and found that survival of family, economic condition and health condition along with other factors plays important role as individuals adopts to grow old. She is of the view that changes in economic and health status are not only the issues which require our attention. Most important issue is the adjustment of that particular person into the current situation according to the increasing age.
Project funded by a generous grant from Andrus Foundation
© Copyright 2001 — Careers in Aging
http://www.academia.edu/1854670/Aging_and_Elderly_in_Pakistan http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/ageing/documents/publications/current-status-older-persons.pdf http://www.careersinaging.com/careersinaging/why.html