Kathmandu, March 23
Many elderly people have been forced to live in destitution in old age homes run by charitable organisations due to gradual erosion of family values.
According to Nepal National Report recently published by the Ministry of Urban Development, Nepal is also witnessing an increase in the aging population, similar to the global trend. A person of age 60 years or above is defined as a senior citizen in Nepal. However, Nepal is still ‘young’ in terms of the aging population which, according to the 2011 census, is only 8.13 per cent of the total population.
“As per Nepal’s traditional norms, family value system and culture, the prevailing practice of taking responsibility to ensure the well- being of old age people primarily lies with the concerned families rather than with the government. It is estimated that 80 per cent of the elderly people in Nepal live with their married sons and about 3 per cent with their married daughters,” read the report.
In addition to 230 elderly people living in the old age home established in 1975 and run by the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, there are as many as 1,500 senior citizens living in old age homes run by charitable organisations across the country.
Responding to the needs of the aging population has become a burning issue and a challenge
in the urban areas. As a response to the challenge and to respect senior citizens’ significant contribution to the country’s development during their formative and productive periods, the government has started recognising the needs of the aging population.
Accordingly, the government, through its ministries and concerned agencies, has formulated law, regulations, and various policies to meet a wide range of needs, including long-term health care, financial security, protection against violence and discrimination, and enabling environment for their physical, social and psychological well-being.
“Over the last two decades, hosts of programs and projects have contributed to improvement in the status of old age population in terms of meeting their social, physical and psychological needs,” it said.
Representative examples include allowance for persons aged 70 years and above, formation of Senior Citizen Protection Section at the MoWCSW and operation of geriatric wards in five different government hospitals.
A version of this article appears in print on March 24, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.