Invest in care for fast-increasing elderly population

Monday, February 10th, 2020 06:00 |
An elderly person. Photo/Courtesy

The ‘2013 Act’ also known as the Parent’s Maintenance Act 2013, is a Bangladesh law that compels ‘children’ (Bangladeshi) to take care of their parents by providing among other things, food, clothing, shelter and medical care and treatment. 

Each child is required to give a reasonable amount of their income to the parents if they live apart, and ensure they maintain constant communication and regularly see them.

They are also forbidden from putting their parents into nursing homes against their will. Parents who do not receive support can file cases against their children, who if found guilty, could be fined or jailed for six months.

See, Bangladesh like many other countries in the world is experiencing very fast growth of the elderly population and it has taken measures to ensure they get taken care of. 

Today, people are living longer, and it is estimated that by 2050, one in six people in the world will be aged 65 (16 per cent) and over, up from one in 11 in 2019 (nine per cent), according to World Population Prospects: the 2019 Revision. This increase is expected to be highest in Africa, where systems are least prepared for this change.

According to World Health Organisation (2018) aging is characterised by increased sicknesses, loss of functionality (independence), various disabilities and increased premature deaths. 

This is, especially true with the increasing burden of non-communicable diseases (NDCs) among this cohort due to lifestyles risk factors such as tobacco use, physical inactivity, excess alcohol intake, unhealthy diets and obesity, in addition to other age related factors.

Loss of social structures, ‘western’ lifestyles and diets are leaving our elderly vulnerable to NCDs and premature deaths. 

It is therefore critical to not only have policy interventions, but also implement elderly friendly interventions, including integrating elderly care in the existing health and social structures. 

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