Widespread nuclearization of the joint family system is making many senior citizens vulnerable and helpless in society as many elderly people live with less social interaction, high dissatisfaction in the absence of their children around, and economic dependency.
However, the number elderly people as well as people aged 65 or above in Bangladesh is growing faster than the population growth rate. The number of elderly people was 1.02 crore in 2011. The number is currently 1.53 crore in the country.
According to the latest report published by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), the number of elderly people has increased by 50.01% in 11 years, while the size of the population has increased by only 14.66%. That is, the increase rate of the number of elderly people is 3.41 times higher than the population growth.
Experts said that many senior citizens in the country are facing economic, social and health vulnerability. Disintegration of the joint family system has made many senior citizens vulnerable and helpless in the society, says an observation of the OSHE Foundation.
Alam Hossain, director (admin) of the OSHE Foundation (Bangladesh Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Foundation); told the Bangladesh Post that it is crucial to recognize that 8% of the current population in Bangladesh comprises elderly individuals, a number projected to increase to 25% by 2050. Factors such as declining average life expectancy and the disintegration of the traditional joint family system have rendered many senior citizens vulnerable and helpless, he added.
According to the OSHE Foundation, the hardships faced by elderly individuals who continue to work in their later years are exacerbating, jeopardizing their livelihood security. While the government has initiated campaigns and policies to address the challenges faced by the elderly, new issues continue to arise for senior citizens in Bangladesh. The ongoing challenges and advocate for the necessary support and services to be made available to elderly people throughout the country should be highlighted.
In such a situation, the International Day of Older Persons is going to be observed in the country elsewhere across the globe today (October 1) with the theme ‘Fulfilling the Promises of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for Older Persons: Across Generations’.
The special day for senior citizens all over the world is observed aiming to raise awareness of the value of senior persons in the society and their contributions to the society.
Like other parts of the world, the International Day of Older Persons will be observed in Bangladesh amid various programmes. OSHE Foundation and some other rights platforms have chalked out various programmes to mark the day.
On the occasion, the Bangladesh Social Protection Advocacy Network (BSPAN), secretariat to OSHE Foundation, will form a human chain in front of the National Press Club in the city today (Sunday).
Tonmoy Nath, communication officer of OSHE Foundation; said that the event will take place with the primary objective is to highlight the ongoing challenges and advocate for the necessary support and services to be made available to elderly people throughout the country.
On the occasion of the International Day of Older Persons, experts said that the trend of rising the number of the elderly people in the country is alarming due to absence of proper initiative to manage them. They called upon the government to increase public spending to ensure proper facilities for the senior citizens. President Mohammed Shahabuddin and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday (September 30, 2023) issued separate messages on the eve of the day.
The President and the Prime Minister wished all-out success for all programmes of the day. They greeted the country’s senior citizens and wished them sound health and peaceful life.
In his message, President Mohammed Shahabuddin said, “I welcome the initiative of observing the International Day of Older Persons in the country like elsewhere in the world. I think this year’s theme for the day.”
He said that the development of the country is accelerated through the combination of the enthusiasm of the youth and the experience of the senior citizens. He also said that the contribution of elders in the progress of civilization is undeniable.
To ensure a dignified, poverty-free, functional, healthy and secure family and social life for the elderly persons, the government has enacted the National Policy on Older Persons-2013 and the Parent’s Care Act, 2013, he said.
Besides, old-age allowance was introduced in the fiscal year 1997-1998, Shahabuddin said, adding that in the financial year 2023-24, a total of 58 lakh 1 thousand senior citizens are receiving old-age allowance under the programme.
Along with the increase in the number of old-age allowance beneficiaries, the amount of allowance is also being increased, he added.
The head of the state, however, called the authorities concerned to take appropriate steps so that ‘our senior citizens can enjoy all the facilities of digital technology and technological equality’.
In her message, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said the government is very sensitive and respectful towards senior citizens. Like in other countries, the number of senior citizens is increasing rapidly in Bangladesh. At the same time, their various challenges are also increasing, she added.
She said, “Today, it is the moral responsibility of everyone to fulfill their responsibility towards those whose labor, talent and experience have contributed in building the country.”
Underscoring the need for awakening the family and social values, Sheikh Hasina called upon the private organisations to come forward along with the government to protect the rights and facilities of senior citizens.