Millennials: Contributing Towards Elder Friendly Society in India

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  • Profile photo of Nidhi Mishra
    Nidhi Mishra
    March 24, 2017 at 8:54 pm #25992

    Millennial generation (people born between early 1980s to early 2000s) is often perceived as materialistic and self-centred, however both recent researchers and my personal experiences point out to the contrary. The millennials along with being go-getters are also a socially conscious generation who are not only concerned about senior citizens but are also empathetic towards their needs.

    As India is becoming more urbanised and youngsters are moving out of their homes for seeking better education and job opportunities, loneliness amongst senior citizens is becoming a growing concern in India. Many youngsters in India are attempting to solve this issue through innovative means. Recently a group of final year engineering students from Maharashtra Institute of Technology, Pune have built a Robot or Cognitive Assistant, Chintu for assisting senior citizens in their routine task and entertaining them whenever they feel bored. The team has received a grant of Rupees 10 lakhs under the IBM’s Global Shared University Research Grant Programme for this project (Read more: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/small-biz/startups/mit-punes-cognitive-assistant-chintu-to-help-senior-citizens/articleshow/57681769.cms). The robot is still a prototype and will need to undergo further refinements over next few years. Of course there is no substitute for the human touch however, keeping in mind that more and more youngsters are staying outside their hometown now, and their parents/grand-parents are fast adopting to technology (email/ text messaging/ video calls) such interventions might become a reality sooner than we think of, we should appreciate the efforts of the students who thought about solving this challenges by such unique means.

    There are many organisations which are engaging young professionals to improve the quality of life of elders especially those having health issues or those experiencing loneliness. I personally know three such organisations in the field of care giving/ assisted living that are doing great work:

    1. Life Circle Senior Services (www.lifecircle.in) an organisation that provides home nursing and professional caregiving services to chronically ill and bed ridden seniors.

    2. Silver Inning’s Assisted Living Facility A1 Snehanjali (www.a1snehanjali.com) an assisted living facility in a care-home for seniors who do not need constant medical intervention or nursing home care.

    3. Aamoksh One Eighty (www.aamoksh.com)an organisation managing, developing, designing and operating retirement communities. They focus on providing lifestyle services to seniors and provide both independent and assisted living services.

    I have been approached for guidance and feedback by many students, research scholars and young professionals who have either recently launched services for elderly or are planning to launch need based services for elders. Like recently, I spoke to Niraj Khedkar, Co-Founder of Elders Camp (www.elderscamp.com) and I found him very passionate about this cause. It is also heartening to see more and more youngsters and working professionals from other fields getting involved in such causes by active volunteering and giving pro-bono consulting and hence creating a live and active support-system for both start-ups and individuals working in this field.

    Some people say that the reason for such a spike in interest in this field is that this is an emerging business opportunity. However we need to appreciate the fact that it requires much higher level of empathy, sense of purpose and social responsibility than building up a start-up in let’s say the IT domain. Caregiving, Assisted living, launching elder friendly services are intensive jobs and often come with less attractive salary and compensations.

    My request to all those reading this article is that based on the incidents of abuses and ill-treatments of elders by some youngsters please don’t generalise it on all young people because there are many who are concerned about the well-being of elders and they try to fight with all odds to do something meaningful for elders. For example, when I chose to do a PhD in Gerontology, there were many people who discouraged me from doing a research on old age, as they believed that this is a “depressing” topic. After completion of my PhD when I decided to start my career with an NGO working for senior citizens I was questioned on my career choice since this was a lesser paying job than working as an academician. However, let me tell you in the last 12 years since I started working with senior citizens I learned so many things from them both personally and professionally. I am very satisfied with my professional life as it gives me a sense of meaning and satisfaction.

    Based on my experiences and observations, I would like to request everyone that please don’t discourage youngsters who wish to do something meaningful for elders and please sensitize everyone towards the challenges associated with old age. This way we can promote healthy, active and productive ageing in India.

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