Ageing In India: Growing Old - An Unhappy Affair?

In India, awareness on ageing is terribly low. Indians think 33% of the population is over 65 years of age, but statistics reveal elderly population constitutes of only 5%. A low awareness leads to such perceptions. Basically, ageing is more of a social construct than a biological stage, and interestingly enough, the definition of being old increases by age. While the age group of 25-29 consider people within 50-56 as seniors, those above 60 think 70 is the age when one actually becomes old.

Most Indians are young at heart as 54% feel younger than their actual age. Old age is an elusive concept as being old means different things to different people. But the prevailing idea forces retired individuals to fall in the old age category.

Popular Misconceptions

Many seem to labor under the impression that most of the seniors develop dementia and heart troubles. Well, they are certainly more susceptible than others, but healthy habits among them are not unheard of. And financial preparedness in case of an emergency can help them tackle such situations.

Let’s look at some of the research findings to counter the popular set of myths.

Research findings:

The research shows that all Indians except seniors exhibit similar trends across all the well-being parameters. Those aged 60+ rate themselves poorly in all the well-being areas.

Middle-class Indians find it difficult to provide for their parents health with limited resources at their disposal and escalating cost of their kids’ education. Even though 89% of them consider it important to take care of their parent’s health, other obligations come in the way, leaving only 28% of the senior citizens financially comfortable. These are the few reasons which contribute to poor health and well-being among them.

Moreover, the increasing cost of healthcare worries them the most, according to the survey. The increasing cost of living also adds to their woes.

No happiness U curve for India

The elders seem to be unhappy. And hence, India does not seem to be following the usual “happiness U curve” as older Indians (60+) are experiencing lower health and well-being vis-a-vis younger age groups. While the age-group of 25-29 years rate their overall well-being as 57%, those above 60 years, rate it as only 35%.

The research findings are based out of an online survey we conducted with 3,021 respondents in India to understand their health and well-being. The Cigna 360 Well-being score looks at health and well-being holistically with 5 dimensions: physical, social, family, financial, work.


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