Tuesday, August 24, 2010


THE SILENT MARCH – Our Concern for Suffering Fellow Senior Citizens

By Harchandan Singh, Secretary General CCCGPA & RSCWS

It is rare that the people jointly raise a voice for a cause that does not directly affect to them. It is even more rare that the “Haves” jointly but selflessly raise their voice for the “Have Nots”. It is rather rare of the rarest to see the sexagenarians, septuagenarians, octogenarians and nonagenarians all march together in hundreds - on issues of National importance.

It was exactly all like that what happened on that historic day of 16th August, 2010 – when over 500 Senior Citizens belonging to nearly 30 different organisations of the tri-city of Chandigarh, Panchkula & Mohali marched together through the main city centre in Sector 17 – carrying Banners and chest patches bearing slogans in support of their demands with a message to the Nation and younger generation to “RESPECT AGE” & “CARE FOR THE ELDERS”.

The march was a part of the Senior Citizens National Protest Day. It was followed by a delegation meeting the UT Administrator & Governor Punjab Shri Shiv Raj Patil and presenting to him as well to the Deputy Commissioner Chandigarh - a Memorandum addressed to the Prime Minister of India – on the major issues relating to the Senior Citizens.

who all participated

The Silent March was led by some seniors in their 80s & 90s on the wheel chairs & crutches followed by the Banner bearing members of Chandigarh Senior Citizens Association (CSCA) and Members of various Chapters of CSCA, Coordination Committees of Central Government Pensioners Associations (CCCGPA), P & T Pensioners Welfare Association, Railway Senior Citizens Welfare Society (RSCWS), Association of Retired Officers of Indian Audit & Account Deptt., Central Government Pensioners Association, Association of Retired Officers of Labour Bureau, ESIC Retired Officers Association, SBI Pensioners Association, Federation of Senior Citizens (FEDSEN) – North and some other groups of Human Right Association and Women & Youth Organisations.


For several decades, Governments at the Centre and in the states have been neglecting the problems of senior citizens. Out of 10 crores of older persons, 66% go hungry every day; 90% have no social or health security; 37% are lonely and neglected.

National Policy on Older Persons – announced in 1999 – has not been fully implemented by a single state. The Policy visualizes that the state will extend support for financial security, healthcare, shelter, welfare and other needs of older persons, provide protection against abuse and exploitation. The policy aims at well - being of older persons, so that they will not live unprotected, ignored or marginalized. Its objective is to help older persons to live their last phase of their life with purpose, dignity and peace. But it has yet to be implemented anywhere.

Only 3 states out of 35 have effectively implemented the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act – though three years have passed. Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme had been implemented by only a few States. There is no comprehensive medical or health care for old people after 60 years of age.

Several sincere and serious attempts to get Governments involved and to listen to problems and demands failed. It was therefore decided to observe a Protest Day, on an all India basis, on August 16 to press for the following demands:

Health Insurance for all Senior Citizens with modest premium and without restrictions of “entry and exit age” and “pre-existing health conditions”, early implementation of the “Maintenance & Welfare of Parents & Senior Citizens Act” in all States and Union Territories, implementation the existing NPOP (National Policy for Older Persons) with adequate budgetary support, Uniform age of 60 years for Exemption under Income Tax Act and Old Age Pension for all Senior Citizens and Additional Pension to Pensioners / Family Pensioners who are 65 years & above for meeting health related requirements – as done in case of those of 80 years and above.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Coimbatore Senior Citizens Helpline found very useful

The Hindu Coimbatore 4th August 20

Senior citizens' helpline evokes good response

The senior citizens' helpline the West Zone police introduced recently
has found a good response. A release from the P. Sivanandi, Inspector
General of Police, West Zone, said 52 persons had lodged complaints
since the police launched the service on July 27. And, of those the
police had attended to 45.

The complainants were from the eight districts in the Zone and sought
action against son or daughter on charges of neglect. The release said
the police at the helpline, after noting down the complaint, forwarded
the same to the police station concerned for further action. The local
police, after verifying the charges, spoke to those who had been named
in the complaints to arrive at a solution. In most instances the
police did not register cases but received a written commitment from
those named in complaints. Only once did the police register a case
and that was when a father had complained about his son's rude
behaviour in inebriated condition. The son, a 42-year-old, had been
remanded in custody.

The release said the remaining seven cases were under investigation.
The helpline is available on 99440-95555.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Arthritis Advice

The word "arthritis" makes many people think of painful, stiff joints. But, there are many kinds of arthritis, each with different symptoms and treatments. Most types of arthritis are chronic. That means they can go on for a long period of time.

Arthritis can attack joints in almost any part of the body. Some types of arthritis cause changes you can see and feel—swelling, warmth, and redness in your joints. In some kinds of arthritis, the pain and swelling last only a short time, but are very uncomfortable. Other types of arthritis might be less painful, but still slowly cause damage to your joints.

Common Kinds of Arthritis

Arthritis is one of the most common diseases in the United States. Older people most often have osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or gout.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis in older people. OA starts when tissue, called cartilage, that pads bones in a joint begins to wear away. When the cartilage has worn away, your bones rub against each other. OA most often happens in your hands, neck, lower back, or the large weight-bearing joints of your body, such as knees and hips.
OA symptoms range from stiffness and mild pain that comes and goes to pain that doesn’t stop, even when you are resting or sleeping. Sometimes OA causes your joints to feel stiff after you haven’t moved them for awhile, like after riding in the car. The stiffness goes away when you move the joint. Over time, OA can make it hard to move your joints. It can cause a disability if your back, knees, or hips are affected.

Why do you get OA? Growing older is what most often puts you at risk for OA, possibly because your joints and the cartilage around them become less able to recover from stress and damage. Also, OA in the hands may run in families. Or, OA in the knees can be linked with being overweight. Injuries or overuse may cause OA in joints such as knees, hips, or hands.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease, a type of illness that makes your body attack itself. RA causes pain, swelling, and stiffness that lasts for hours. RA can happen in many different joints at the same time. People with RA often feel tired or run a fever. RA is more common in women than men.

RA can damage almost any joint. It often happens in the same joint on both sides of your body. RA can also cause problems with your heart, muscles, blood vessels, nervous system, and eyes.

Gout is one of the most painful kinds of arthritis. It most often happens in the big toe, but other joints can also be affected. Swelling may cause the skin to pull tightly around the joint and make the area red or purple and very tender.

Eating foods rich in purines like liver, dried beans, peas, anchovies, or gravy can lead to a gout attack. Using alcohol, being overweight, and taking certain medications may make gout worse. In older people, some blood pressure medicines can also increase the chance of a gout attack. To decide if you have gout, your doctor might do blood tests and x-rays.

Warning Signs

You might have some type of arthritis if you have:

  • Ongoing joint pain
  • Joint swelling
  • Joint stiffness
  • Tenderness or pain when touching a joint
  • Problems using or moving a joint normally
  • Warmth and redness in a joint

If any one of these symptoms lasts more than 2 weeks, see your regular doctor or one who specializes in treating arthritis, called a rheumatologist. If you have a fever, feel physically ill, suddenly have a swollen joint, or have problems using your joint, see your doctor right away.

Treating Arthritis

Getting enough rest, doing the right exercise, eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, and learning the right way to use and protect your joints are keys to living with any kind of arthritis. The right shoes and a cane can help with pain in the feet, knees, and hips when walking. There are also gadgets to help you open jars and bottles or to turn the doorknobs in your house.

Some medicines can help with pain and swelling. Acetaminophen might ease arthritis pain. Some people find NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), like ibuprofen, naproxen, and ketoprofen, helpful. Some NSAIDs are sold without a prescription, while others must be prescribed by a doctor. Be very careful about possible side effects of some NSAIDs, whether sold with or without a prescription. Read the warnings on the package or insert that comes with the drug. Talk to your doctor about if and how you should use acetaminophen or NSAIDs for your arthritis pain. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more information about these drugs.

Osteoarthritis (OA). Medicines can help you control the pain. Rest and exercise may make it easier to move your joints. Keeping your weight down is a good idea. If pain from OA is very bad, there are shots your doctor can give you.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Treatment can help the pain and swelling. This might slow down or stop joint damage. You may feel better and find it easier to move around. Your doctor might also suggest anti-rheumatic drugs called DMARDs (disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs). These can slow damage from the disease. Other medicines known as corticosteroids (like prednisone) can ease swelling. Another kind of drug, called a biologic response modifier, blocks the damage done by the immune system. These may help people with mild-to-moderate RA when other treatments have not worked.

Gout. The most common treatment for an acute attack of gout is NSAIDs or glucocorticoids like prednisone. They can bring down the swelling, so you may start to feel better within a few hours after treatment. The pain usually goes away within a few days. Glucocorticoids are strong medicines. They should only be taken with a doctor’s prescription. If you have had an attack of gout, talk to your doctor to learn why you had the attack and how to prevent future attacks. If you have had several attacks, your doctor might prescribe medicines to prevent future ones.

Exercise Can Help

Along with taking the right medicine and properly resting your joints, exercise might help with arthritis symptoms. Daily exercise, such as walking or swimming, helps keep joints moving, lessens pain, and makes muscles around the joints stronger.

Three types of exercise are best if you have arthritis:

  • Range-of-motion exercises, like dancing, might relieve stiffness, keep you flexible, and help you keep moving your joints.
  • Strengthening exercises, such as weight training, will keep or add to muscle strength. Strong muscles support and protect your joints.
  • Aerobic or endurance exercises, like bicycle riding, make your heart and arteries healthier, help prevent weight gain, and also may lessen swelling in some joints.

The National Institute on Aging (NIA) has a free booklet on how to start and stick with a safe exercise program. See the last panel of this AgePage for more information.

Other Things To Do

Along with exercise and weight control, there are other ways to ease the pain around joints. You might find comfort by using a heating pad or a cold pack, soaking in a warm bath, or swimming in a heated pool.

Your doctor may suggest surgery when damage to your joints becomes disabling or when other treatments do not help with pain. Surgeons can repair or replace some joints with artificial (man-made) ones.

Other Remedies

Recent studies suggest that acupuncture may ease OA pain for some people. Research also shows that two dietary supplements, glucosamine and chondroitin, may help lessen moderate to severe OA pain, but they seem to have no effect on changes to cartilage in the knee. Scientists continue to study these kinds of alternative treatments. Always check with your doctor before trying any new treatment for arthritis.

Many people with arthritis try remedies that have not been tested or proven helpful. Some of these, such as snake venom, are harmful. Others, such as copper bracelets, are harmless, but also unproven.

How can you tell that a remedy may be unproven?

  • The remedy claims that a treatment, like a lotion or cream, works for all types of arthritis and other diseases.
  • Scientific support comes from only one research study.
  • The label has no directions for use or warning about side effects.
  • The person recommending the treatment profits directly from your purchase of the medicine.
  • People who are now completely well are presented to you as having the same problems you have (this is called anecdotal evidence).

Talk To Your Doctor

Pain and arthritis do not have to be part of growing older. You can work with your doctor to safely lessen the pain and stiffness and to prevent more serious damage to your joints.

Reference: National Institute on Aging.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007 –Tardy Status of Implementation in States

The Act was passed towards the end of 2007. The Central Government recommended that it be adopted and implemented by every state and Union teritory. Out of 35 States / UTs, as Himachal Pradesh has its own act (better than the Central Act), HP is not taken into account. It is not applicable to J&K. Out of the rest of 33 States / UTs four states have not bothered even notify it as acceptable for action. These are: Bihar,Madhya Pradesh, Sikkim and Uttar Pradesh. After notification in the State Gazette, there are four important steps to be taken. These are: a) Framing Rules under the act b) Notifying / Appointing Maintenance Officers c)Notifying / Appointing Maintenance Tribunal and d) Setting up Appelatte Tribunal. Without these crucial steps in place the act is toothless in any state.
Let us look at the Table taken from MOSJE Annual Report for 2009-10. There are some funny things about this table. Four States that are totally blind to Center's plea about this act have not been included. While the data about status as of Feb 2010 is given for 29 states, the Serial Number shows 30 as the numbering is faulty. And the data does not depict true picture.
While the Table says that thirteen states have fully complied with the requirements, we read news items as late as June 2010 that Gujarat and Tamilnadu are yet to appoint Maintenance officers, appellate tribunal etc. Ground reality is different. 15 out of 33 States have not even notified rules – it is as good as doing nothing about the act. It is only around June 2010, on account of Elder Abuse Awareness Day and media pressure, that some states sporadically try to do something. Pressure from Senior Citizens Associations and Sttate and National level federations count nothing with the rulers. One example is Maharashtra where AISCCON, FESCOM and local NGOs like Silver Innings, Dignity & Harmony have been shouting from roof tops – the government is silent as rock.
In Andhra Pradesh draft rules have remained in file, never notified, despite consistent pressure and follow up by FAPSCO and APSCCON. One redeeming factor about AP is that despite absence of rules , the Collector of West Godhavari District has treated the Act as self contained wholesome act ( with rules) and has gone ahead listening to and passing orders under this act – helping senior citizens all the way. As many as 15 cases have been settled which only goes to bust the myth the senior citizens won't go to court against their own children. Hundreds are waiting for leagal avenues to redress their sufferings. Similarly, In Tamilnadu, the police, though they can not directly intefere in cases of Elder abuse under this act, have opted to be sympathetic to senior citizens in tackling offenders out of the way. Not all states are lucky.
Therefore it is impretive that all states and UTs take necessary steps imediately to implement theAct in right spirit, not just on paper. This requires pressure from center, that is MOSJE should do its part. As they are not doing, Senior citizens are showing their dissatisfaction by observing Senior Citizens National Protest Day on 16th August 2010. Joins us in full strength for your own benefit.

Posted By Dr P Vyasamoorthy, 30 Gruhalakshmi Colony Secunderabad 500015 Ph 040-27846631 / 9490804278. My blog: http://vyasa-kaaranam-ketkadey.blogspot.com/

Old Age Pension: Several States need to wake up

The Government of India instituted Old age pension to destitute older persons several years ago. The pension amount was raised from Rs 75 per month to Rs 200 couple of years ago. Under the latest scheme called India Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOPS) any senior citizens above 65 in BPL category is eligible for a pension of Rs 200 pm from GOI contribution. The center has recommended that each state may supplement this with a minimum of Rs 200 per month from its own resources.
The scheme envisages the payment to be made through post offices or banks to filter out middlemen. It also stipulates that both husband and wife are eligible if they are above 65. Earlier clause that the recipient must be a destitute was withdrawn. With Rs 400 a month, at the present inflationary rates of food items, a senior citizen can just afford to buy half a liter of milk per day and nothing else. It is a pity that in as many as 17 states and UTs even this minimum recommendation of Rs 400 is not complied with. Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Daman & Diu pay nothing more than center's contribution of Rs 200. Supplementary payment, out of State resources, ranging from Rs 50 to 150, is made by 11 states: Himachal Pradesh, J&K, Chattisgarh, Nagaland, Lakshdweep, Kerala, Assam, Megalaya, Mizoram, Madya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
As many as 9 states – Gujarat, Jharkand, Karnataka,Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Tripura, Tamilnadu and West Bengal are contented with meeting the bare recommended minimum of Rs4oo, thus contributing Rs 200 from their own resources. Older persons in rest of the 9 states are lucky in getting more than 400 – luckiest being Goa and Delhi where OAP is Rs 1000 per month.
What it all boils down to is that nearly 50% of states are paying far less than 400 for older persons 65+. In terms of number persons denied even this barest minimum of Rs 400 works out to 2.1 crores. As I know of the situation in AP let me give some startling facts: When old couple, both are above 65, the husband is give; the wife is denied. The amount is given through political local leaders who pick and choose who should be given (registered) for OAP. A sample survey conducted in two villages showed many anomalies such as: ineligible persons being included; recipients had to pay a bribe to get registered and a commission even on monthly payments on a regular basis; non existing names were included for OAP etc.
The Andhra Pradesh Government justifies its stand by claiming to pay Rs 200 to about 46 lakhs of elders. While the national average of BPL category is around 38% of the population, AP says about 80% are under BPL. Indiscriminate issue (sale of, would be more appropriate) of White Ration Cards for BPL to curry the favors of public and voters has landed the state into an irrecoverable mess. Our repeated pleas to rectify the situation and to ensure that all truly eligible senior citizens get Rs 400 per month have fallen on deaf ears.
This is one of the main reasons triggering senior citizens from all over India joining together to observe a protest day at national level on 16th August 2010. Let us hope that our rulers wake up and listen.

Posted By Dr P Vyasamoorthy, 30 Gruhalakshmi Colony Secunderabad 500015 Ph 040-27846631 / 9490804278. My blog: http://vyasa-kaaranam-ketkadey.blogspot.com/

Ageing Parliamentarians are apathetic towards Senior Citizens

Senior Citizens in India have been consistently getting neglected by Central and State Governments for a number of decades. To cite just a few issues of neglect:

63 years have passed and we still do not have social or health security

· 11 years have passed and National Policy on Older Persons (NPOP) has not been implemented by a single State
· 3 years have passed since enacting the Maintenance of Parents and Senior Citizens Act (MWPSC Act). This has become somewhat operational only in 8 out of 35 States/UT's; Four states have not even notified it!
· More than 50% BPL Senior Citizens[65+] either do not get any Old Age Pension or are paid much less than the stipulated minimum

Senior Citizens Associations, State and National level Federations and Confederations have been tirelessly taking it up with those occupying seats of power, but with no success.

Look at our parliamentarians in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. Lok Sabha has 543 members out of whom nearly 50% are above 60 – senior citizens by them selves. Similar is the case in Rajya Sabha. We have 243 members where a whopping 183 (75%) are senior citizens. However these elitist politicians show lip sympathy when approached and do nothing to help senior citizens cause. I sent an email appeal to all parliamentarians above 60 years old seeking their support. But nearly fifty percent of emails bounced indicating that they never open their mail and allow it to overflow the space allotted. Only one (Sri MS Swaminathan) was kind enough to respond assuring us his support. Another disturbing statistic: all the 780 members put together have asked about 30 questions concerning senior citizens welfare in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha during the last one year.

Spare our politicians. Take up the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. From the Annual report 2009-10, the total annual budget allotment for MOSJE is Rs 2500 Crores. Out of this budget for disabled & Senior Citizens is 9.3%, that is Rs 232.5 Crores. Expenditure for Senior Citizens amounts to 27 crores Out of these 27 crores, Rural Development ministry has chipped in about 10.6 crores for old age pension. Amount spent for Senior Citizens works out to less than 10% of money spent on Disabled welfare and about 1% of total Ministry's budget.

Now consider segment of the population MOSJE serves: Population: Senior Citizens 60+ --> 7.7 crores out of total 102.9 crores; Disabled --> 2.19 cr out of total India's population of 102.9 cr. Work out for yourself the gross disparity in budget allotment.

How long should senior citizens keep quite and meekly witness the negligence and indifference? You be the judge. If you agree, join the silent protest on Senior Citizens National Protest Day on 16th August 2010 in your own city, district. For details see: http://scnpd.posterous.com/