Conflict between generations has increased many folds because of Covid-19: Report
Self-centered and fast paced modern lifestyle has been affecting family life and relationships for years. In the last 2 years Covid-19 has further deteriorated the family scenario by making intergenerational relations more complicated and strained. Due to Covid-19 phenomenon, the generation gap has increased more rapidly across the country and human rights of many older people are at stake due to this fast emerging trend in society. It has been revealed from the latest study conducted by the Agewell Foundation, an NGO working for the welfare and empowerment of older people.
Under the study titled "Covid-19 Impact on the Elderly in India", Agewell volunteers spread across the country interacted with 10000 older persons (60+) during the month of August-September 2021.
Survey findings indicate that the generation gap has widened due to overstretched spells of Coronavirus and related lockdowns/restrictions like social distancing. During the survey 75.8% elderly respondents claimed that the gap between generations has increased more rapidly during the past two years.
Every second elderly (53.4% respondents) claimed that Human Rights of elderly are affected due to pandemic and related issues. Among them 81% elderly complained that the ever widening generation gap is responsible for the poor status of human rights of the elderly. Covid-19 pandemic has imposed many challenges before older people, from social isolation, financial penury, psychological issues to elder abuse and neglect.
During the survey, 85.4% elderly admitted that they are facing or had to face Covid-19 situation and related issues. 77.1% of them admitted that restrictions on social interactional activities were the main reason for widening the generation gap. Over 54 % elderly said that social distancing within family members / relatives was the main reason for the generation gap, while 52.6 % elderly blamed decreased income of elderly and younger family members for this.
According to 52.8% respondents, increased popularity of online / digital media like smartphones, etc. was the main factor responsible for widening the generation gap. 43.7% elderly opined that emerging psychological issues due to Covid-19 played a significant role in increasing the gap.
Speaking about the survey, HimanshuRath, Founder Chairman, Agewell Foundation said, "The most affected lot because of Covid-19 phenomenon and resultantly ever widening generation gap is the helpless and marginalized older people, who believe in self-denial and silently suffer all indignity / humiliation / isolation. Since there is no respite yet, older persons need constant assurance of support, help and all kinds of assistance in case of need at all levels."
Among affected (8542 elderly) financial issues were termed as most critical issues by 27.9% while 25.2% said that they find social issues more critical and 22.4% elderly respondents claimed that healthcare issues were critical for them. 21.7% respondents found psychological conditions more critical during this situation.
41% respondents termed sense of loneliness / isolation termed as the most prominent psychological issue followed by restlessness (21.5%).
Most disturbing Impact of increased Unemployment / Joblessness was increased dependence on others as per the 20.5% elderly respondents. While 16.6% said that due to this they were unable to get proper treatment / regular medicines. 18% respondents said that their grand-children's education suffered due to joblessness.
Every 5th elderly respondent (21% elderly) their quality of life has been compromised due to rising inflation. 19% elderly also claimed that they had to compromise with unhealthy/unhygienic conditions due to rising prices.
Covid-19 phenomenon has changed the attitude of more than 85% elderly. Among them 81% elderly reportedly said post-Covid-19 threat, they are not optimistic towards the future or are now uncertain about the future. In the current situation, 92.5% elderly admitted that their major concern is looking after the health condition of self/spouse. 66.7% elderly are also concerned for their family members. 62.5% said that their major concern is maintaining financial resources. 59.5% elderly said that they are very worried about their social life.
Due to ever widening generation gap, Human Rights of older persons were found violated as 53.4% elderly ( 43.1% rural and 63.7% urban elderly) realized that during Covid-19 situation their human rights were compromised remarkably. Among these elderly, 41.2% elderly claimed that they have to face mistreatment/torture/exploitation while 53% said that disrespect / neglect in old age has become common during this period. 46% elderly claimed that have to face gender / age discrimination more often. 43% elderly reportedly lost independence /freedom due to Covid-19 situation, while 11.7% elderly claimed that they had to face crime due to the changed environment due to Coronavirus.
Agewell Foundation recommends:
- · To bridge the gap between generations by promoting and conducting inter-generational bonding programs.
- · To protect elderly from violence, abuse, neglect and social isolation.
- · To create better awareness about Human Rights of Old People across the country.
- · To improve overall attitude toward older people living with mental / psychological disorders.
- · To organize recreational / entertainment activities for older persons through social / electronic media and encourage their participation.
- · To provide digital training to digitally illiterate elderly to help them remain in the mainstream and connected to the modern digital world.