It has been some time since India's population breached the 1 billion mark, but a recent survey has revealed that this overwhelming sea of people has done little to make the elderly less lonely.
Working on the sample size of 10,000 elderly people, Delhi-based NGO Agewell Foundation found that almost every fourth elderly person or 23.44% of the respondents was living alone in India.
Nearly half of the elderly living with their spouses
"Almost every second elderly (48.88%) is living with their respective spouse only, while about 26.5% of the elderly are living with their children or other family members," the survey reported.
The condition is worse in Indian urban areas, where the Delhi-based Agewell Foundation found that 25.3% of elderly people were living alone in comparison to 21.38% in rural areas.
Many elderly people like living with their spouses or alone
It was also observed that a larger number of older persons preferred to live alone or with their spouse only. Although they enjoy their independence, the problem for them lies in being "financially dependent" on others.
Only around 37% elderly are financially independent
"Only 36.81% were financially independent in the autumn of their life," the survey claimed.
On the other hand, 68.24% enjoyed ideological independence, 60.54% psychological independence, 69.54% social independence, and 61.81% physical independence, the survey said.
During the Delhi-based survey, about 88.5% of the elderly people said they needed the healthcare services to ensure their independence in old age.
Urgent need to make elderly financially independent: Agewell Foundation
"There is an urgent need to make every elderly financially-independent in old age, so that they can afford long-term palliative care, whenever they need it," Himanshu Rath, founder of Agewell Foundation, said.
He added that such care must be made at all levels: family, community, and government
Conducted during May and June this year, the survey was spread across 20 states across India.