About the theme
As a developing nation, India has further to go to adapt to the needs of an aging population, and with the challenge of lower levels of disposable income. India ranks 2nd in the 60+ demographic and 3rd in the 80+ or ‘oldest old’ demographics in the world. This is because life expectancy in India has increased by 18 years in the past five decades.
The result is an aging population, with a consequent increase in con-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disorders, diabetes, hypertension, etc. Other challenges are the toll on public healthcare systems, low penetration of health insurance, inadequate number of old-age homes, etc.
The concern is that this aging demographic has been largely neglected by governments, by organisations, by individuals and even their own children. According to the 2011 Census, over 47% of the elderly in rural areas and 20.5% in urban centres continue to work. The need of the hour, therefore, is to exponentially increase interventions that improve the quality of life of the elderly.
The Tata Trusts aim to play a transformational role in the geriatric sector by focusing on critical gap areas to create an empathetic ecosystem. The Trusts’ elder-care initiatives, initiated under the umbrella of ‘Elder Spring’ aim to serve the relevant needs of the elderly in India, 71% of whom live in rural areas. The goal is to improve their quality of life through caregiving, decreasing their dependency and generating social and economic opportunities.
The Elder Spring initiative is customised to fit aging populations in both rural and urban areas. The comprehensive elder-care initiatives cover preventive, curative, promotive and rehabilitative treatment for the overall well-being of older people.
Elder Spring Urban Model focuses on transforming urban centres into age-friendly cities that optimises opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance the lives of the elderly. Launched in Bhubaneswar in partnership with the Government of Odisha, this hub-and-spoke initiative focuses on hubs – multi-activity centres that offer health and wellness, therapeutic activities, utilities and products for seniors and persons with disabilities; and spokes – centres that offer spiritual discussions, entertainment, yoga classes, awareness and digital literacy sessions, health check-ups, etc.
Elder Spring’s rural model focuses on addressing the basic health needs of the elderly in rural areas through the National Programme for Health, Care of Elderly (NPHCE), a central government initiative.
The Trusts collaborate with the district administration, the health department, and gram panchayats in a few selected districts — Chandrapur (Maharashtra), Medak (Telangana), and Yadgir (Karnataka) — to identify needs and gaps and address the same.
In Hyderabad, an Elder Spring Response System has been set up to enable elder-care solutions on a single platform. This makes it easy for elders to call for guidance. Accessible through a toll-free number, it provides free information, counselling, emotional support and field services that focus on elder needs such as elder care, abandonment, support for victims of abuse, legal advice and pension-related help.
The Elder Spring Digital Platform helps to create a trusted nationwide digital platform for elders and their caregivers. This allows elders to engage with their peers in online communities, find opportunities to volunteer or earn income in their local communities. The platform’s technology-driven design enables transparent crowd sourcing for ratings and reviews. The aim is to make this a self-sustainable platform that serves the needs of the elderly across the nation.
Areas of Operation