A recent study has claimed that by 2030, 12.5% of India’s population will come in the senior citizen category. It also claims that by 2050, one-fifth of the population will be aged. United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) published the study on Monday (June 19) in Delhi, raising concern over the treatment and status of elderly women in the country who are more vulnerable than elderly men.

Since women have longer life expectancy, their lives become tougher as they grow old with little pension or no means of livelihood. They have to rely on their children, which many times don’t work in their favour.

“Aged widows with meagre or no income are especially vulnerable in the absence of a proper social security network. What’s more worrying is the fact that 10 per cent of them are living alone, and the number has been rising over the past few decades,” the report added, as quoted by Web India 123.

The report, titled “Caring for our elders: Early Responses India Ageing Report 2017”, was released by Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Thaawarchand Gehlot. It underlines the need for preparing for a change in demographic in the coming years. Health, income, social and psychological profile are just a few aspects that the study derived its conclusion from. It also formulates policies on how the lives of elderly women can be better taken care off in the country.

During the function to release the report, Gehlot spoke about the “Senior Citizen Welfare Fund”, recently launched by the government and other schemes like “Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana”, which is about ailments they suffer due to old age.

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‘Everyone has a part to play for the well-being of elderly, including the government, civil society, communities, and families,” UNFPA Country Representative India and Country Director Bhutan, Diego Palacios said.

The recent case of veteran actor Geeta Kapoor being abandoned by her children in a Mumbai hospital is a clear indication of old women’s vulnerability today. A report by HelpAge India, that came out in 2011, also claimed that 31% of old people in India are abused and face harm in some way or the other and more than 50% of them feel that their sons are responsible for it. This 2011 report also suggested that more women are prone to harm than men.

And even financial independence sometimes does not help the cause of senior citizens as that becomes the target of children who want to take over their assets, income and other valuables.

All this, despite there being a law to protect the rights of senior citizens in the country. Under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007, parents and grandparents who are unable to maintain themselves from their own earnings can seek maintenance from their children. And those who are childless have a right to ask for maintenance from their relatives, who are legal heirs and will inherit their property after they die.