How Covid Effected Elderly Citizens In India/ Elderly Care Market
The travel restrictions and stringent COVID protocols prevented many from getting closure and being able to see their loved ones one last time.
Ever since the pandemic began, we have been catering to various needs of the elderly and their families. However, during the second wave of the pandemic, I experienced a couple of personal losses which gave me deep insight into the severity of the impact COVID has had on elderly. In India, the first wave of the pandemic caused tremendous hardship to elderly for basic logistic support, and they suffered social isolation. The second wave shattered many of them when they lost close friends and family. Some very unfortunate ones had to see their adult children lose the battle to the deadly virus. The travel restrictions and stringent COVID protocols prevented many from getting closure and being able to see their loved ones one last time.
Globally casualties have been the highest in the 60+ age group due to frail health and comorbidities. In India 63% of the COVID deaths are attributed to citizens above the age of 60.
The causality/ impact of COVID on elderly can be broadly summarized in these four areas :
Due to their higher vulnerability we all locked up our elderly into the homes with the best of intent of protecting them from the virus. While we got busy with our work from home routine, the elderly lost their personal space, social networks and sense of privacy. Basic things like running daily errands to the local market which also served as a way to socialize got restricted. Many of them faced abuse and neglect from their spouses and children. Those not savvy with technology lost out on availing the digital medium as well.
Decline in health and wellbeing
According to the LASI report,2020, every 2 in 3 senior citizens in India live with some comorbidities, 23% of them have multiple comorbidities. Due to the pandemic routine health checkups and important surgeries got pushed back. For many elderly caregivers, their spouse took a toll on their health as well.
Mental health issues
According to a survey done by Samvedna, 66% seniors self-reported at least 2 health concerns, 86% of these individuals reported experiencing significant low mood and 83% said they found it difficult to find meaning in their daily activities and enjoy themselves. Almost 58% reported feeling under constant strain due to the lockdown and 33% reported having sleep difficulties. Elderly highlighted increased fear of losing a loved one and not being able to care for family members suffering from COVID.
Fighting the bureaucracy and legal systems
Many elderlies are wrangling through the legal system and official paperwork to get their dues and benefits like pension, gratuity, property and other assets. This is breaking the backs of seniors who are already struggling to cope with their grief and loss.
Eldercare Market in India
Globally the number of people above 60 years is the fastest growing segment with almost 11 % of the world population. According to WHO reports as of 2020, the number of people above 60+ will outnumber children younger than 5 years of age. 80% of the aging population will be in lower middle income countries like India.
The aging population in India in absolute numbers will be more than 150 million people by 2025. According to a CII report from 2018, the total available senior care market is around INR 6,000 crores. The market opportunity exists across healthcare needs, lifestyle products, clinical services, residential care and non-clinical support services.
At Samvedna we have seen an increased demand for elder care services since last year.
The pandemic has made all sit up and take cognizance of the situation that natural support systems like neighbours, friends and family may not always be in a position to help the elderly. The need for professional services to support not only healthcare needs but also logistically and emotionally has been highlighted. Requirements for long term care with certain accountability, has propelled the demand for professional eldercare services.
Further, a huge gap in availability of residential care and the social ethos of the Indian family will see a surge in demand for in-place aging solutions and home care services. Even today almost 70% of the home healthcare market is consumed by the elderly. There is also a need to develop solutions catering to elderly wellness, legal support services and financial aid services.
There is a huge opportunity in the use of technology as an enabler to provide care. Solutions adopting virtual reality and artificial intelligence can help improve the quality of life of people with Dementia. Biomarker sensor devices can also help predict risks of certain chronic ailments. In the future more solutions and services will be available to promote healthy aging.
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