Infrastructure for Senior Citizens

June 15th was observed as Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

Very sad that we have to observe such a day.Our elders have given us life and brought us to where we are now.And as sons,daughters and as the people of the current generation,it is our duty to care for them.

It is already a taken-for-granted inference that we have to care for the elders in our family and neighborhood.But how far can you support them when the state’s infrastructure doesn’t.
What I want to emphasize is here the lack of senior-friendly infrastructure in our country.With all the talk of sanskriti and respect for the elderly,India should ideally be the one having the best infrastructure for its senior citizens.
Sadly,this is not true.

Let me go through some of the important pain points:

Crossing the Road:Just take the example of crossing a road.Bangalore traffic is chaotic,to say the least.And to cross the road in a busy intersection can be a nightmare even for a fit,able-bodied young man.Imagine the plight of our senior citizens.Pedestrians in Indian cities do not get the respect and security that pedestrians get in developed countries.If the pedestrian happens to be an elderly person,it becomes even more difficult.When walking on the road itself is difficult,where is the question of crossing the road.Unless there is a cop or a kind by-stander to help them,senior citizens just cannot cross to the other side of the road in Bangalore traffic.

That too these days,with both husband and wife working,elders are left alone in the house.If they have to go out for something,worse still,if they have to cross the road for getting the stuff,how will they ever do it.I shudder at the thought.

Not Enough Parks/Senior Zones:Bangalore suburbs are not like the city center where there are enough parks for the elderly to loiter around.Some big apartment complexes have an ‘Elders Corner’. But that’s it.Elders have to contend themselves to that corner inside the apartment complex.Stepping out for a walk is definitely not recommended.

While commuting to office,I usually take a shortcut road which has
less traffic.Many a time,when returning home,I have seen an elderly
gentleman with a cane walking on the short-cut road.Even though there is
less traffic on this road,I still do not feel very comfortable seeing
him walk there,with vehicles zipping him past him furiously.He is always
walking alone.Maybe it is his evening walk.Whatever,I would have still
preferred him walking in a park or some such place and not on a road.I
keep thinking what would happen if he didn’t move fast enough for an
approaching vehicle.God Forbid!

At least for the sake of people like him,our living places should have parks,temples,restaurants which are easily accessible for the elderly.

I myself have many senior citizens in my family.My mother,mother-in-law,aunts,uncles and other seniors in my extended family.It becomes a harrowing task if they have to venture out alone for something.

Skywalks with many high steps:Recently,the BBMP people attempted to do something for this road-crossing nightmare.They put up some sky-walks near our place.Alas,the sky-walks with their high and umpteen number of steps are not what the elders can use.Many elders have arthritis,BP and what not.Expecting them to climb all those stairs is highly unfair.

Lifts Not Functioning in Sky-walks:There was another skywalk in the same neighbourhood.This one was better.It had a lift.I was so happy about it.Had to take my mother to a restaurant at the other end of the road one day.I assured her that there is a lift and she need not worry about crossing the road.The lift worked fine.We reached the restaurant comfortably.No,that is not the end of the story.When we returned back and had to cross the road again,the left had stopped working.Since the traffic on the road was heavy,there was no question of crossing the road directly.My 60-something mother had to climb all the stairs to go to the other end of the road.It was pathetic.
When I asked a traffic cop standing nearby about the lift,he replied that sometimes the lift works and sometimes it doesn’t.I fail to understand the use of a non-functional lift.Waste of people’s money!

Lower Berth Problem:The other dreaded scenario for elders is train travel.When we book the train tickets itself,we try to book lower berths.But most of the times,we don’t get it.It becomes a nightmare if we have to travel by train during the nights.We literally have to beg people with lower berths to let the elders in our family use it.Some people are nice and accommodating.Most of them are not.Sometimes,the elders have had to sit through the whole night just because they cannot climb an upper berth allotted to them during reservation.Sometimes back I saw a news article stating that senior citizens will be given preference for lower berths.Welcome move!.Hope it is implemented soon.

Escalators:Last but not the least,escalators.This is quite a recent phenomenon in India and not all elders are comfortable using it.Especially if they have arthritis or vertigo,or any other condition which impairs fast movement.It becomes difficult for such people to place their feet on the escalator in quick succession.They invariably lose their balance while climbing on to it.Recently,an uncle visiting us,had a fatal accident while trying to get on to the escalator in Bangalore Railway Station.
I would prefer the railways to have a lift for the elderly passengers,rather than making them get on to a fast moving escalator.

These are some of the common problems I have mentioned here.There might be many more instances where senior citizens are at the receiving end.High time we take the concerns of our seniors into consideration.More senior-citizen friendly infrastructure and arrangements are needed in our country.These are not the problems some old men or women is facing.We should remember that we are the senior citizens of tomorrow and if things don’t improve soon,we will be the ones who are at the receiving end tomorrow.

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