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Technology could be a vehicle to alleviate the problems of aging

By Punam

October 20, 2010
The author is a health and development journalist. She has worked with mainstream news papers in India. She can be contacted at:

Delhi, India: “Think Elderly” for Older Persons event was organized by Department of Science and Technology and HelpAge India in Delhi. Young students of M.Tech were involved to take up the real life issues of elderly people which could be alleviated with inputs of technology.

The demographic trend in India has been towards an increasing number of elderly people due to the medical advances that have brought about a greater life expectancy. The demographic change accompanied with fast changing family structure due to forces like urbanization and migration necessitate that vast financial resources will be required towards support, care and treatment of older persons. The world’s older population i.e. those aged 60 years and over reached nearly 760 million in 2010. More than half of the total (414 million) live in Asia, including 166 million in China and 92 million in India.

The population aged 60 plus in India as per the 1991 census was 56.7 million, up from 26 million in 1961, which clearly indicates a doubling of the elderly population in the last thirty years. The proportion of the elderly has been going up steadily in each census, though at varying rates. The 1991 Census indicated that 6.58 percent of the total population belonged to the 60 plus age group. This proportion is expected to go up to 9.87 percent by 2021. According to the 1991 Census, a majority of the elderly of the country, i.e. 78 percent, live in rural areas. Due to genetic predisposition to a longer life expectancy it is estimated that among the population aged 60, 54% would be women, at age 80 and above, the proportion will be 63 per cent, and continue to increase to 81 per cent among centenarians. In India a large percentage (30%) of the elderly are below the poverty line.

The Government of India in 1999 documented a National Policy on Older Persons (NPOP) which was adopted in 1999. Recognizing that technology could be a vehicle to alleviate the problems of aging, a new initiative on “Technology Interventions for Elderly (TIE)” was launched by the Department of Science and Technology in 2007 to create an enabling environment for the elderly with the use of technologies. The TIE programme has evolved through a series of consultations involving various stakeholders (geriatric specialists, designers, architects, social scientists, senior citizens, etc.).

Prestigious academic and research institutions (AIIMS, IITs, IISc, SPA, AIIPMR, National Institute of Social Defence) and NGOs (HelpAge India) are actively associated with the TIE programme. Under this innovative programme, research and development initiatives for finding technological solutions with multidisciplinary approach to ameliorate problems and improve quality of life of the elderly population in both rural and urban areas are supported.

Posted on: October 20, 2010 09:22 PM IST


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