Agony and Anguish faced by Senior Citizens

Senior citizens do not even have the luxury of obtaining medical insurance policies to cover their medical expenses.

by Zulkifli Nazim

‘Compassion’ is the kindness that is generated within one’s mind toward others’ – Buddhist Teachings

The recent move by the government to reduce the Fixed Deposit Rates has caused immense worry and concern to Senior Citizens and their families. Retired personnel and pensioners who have served this country amidst all suffering, whether it be the private sector or the public sector and who have to weather their reduced income with the high cost of living, increased charges for specialist consultancies and escalating cost of medicines and drugs, are suffering in desperation.

Senior citizens, most of whom depend on interest earned from bank deposits, face devastating low interest rates. It's even worse for the growing number of pension-less population, for whom the only source of regular income is the interest they earn from deposits of varying terms. Falling interest rates are affecting their only source of income.

The drastic reduction in the returns of savings accounts is another piece of news that's worrying them.

Schemes for Senior Citizens only, have caused irreparable damage to the psyche of younger people who are sick and disabled, who are not senior citizens, who are deprived by this order for Senior Citizens only, schemes.

Even the Central Banks special scheme for senior citizens have been slapped with a Rs.1.5 Million ceiling – for an annual 15% rate. Senior Citizens cannot wait to draw annually and they need their money monthly – here we find that the rate is slashed by one per centum and they receive only 14.06% per month.

No Senior Citizen can wait till maturity for their money because they need it on a monthly basis for their survival. How can Senior citizens survive with this paltry sum which is not even sufficient for them to meet their medical bills. Not forgetting, of course, their daily intake of food, clothing and shelter.

Moreover, Senior citizens do not even have the luxury of obtaining medical insurance policies to cover their medical expenses.

In recent times, many older adults have to adapt to disabilities like sight loss from macular degeneration, glaucoma, or cataracts. In addition, decreased mobility, poor nutrition, and injury from falling are related impairments associated with low vision in senior citizens.

Many seniors feel depressed and isolated because of changes in their lives that stem from their disabilities. Depression has been shown to correlate with the abuse of alcohol and prescription drugs in seniors. New disabilities lead to unanticipated out-of-pocket expenses, including assisted living care, home modifications, and increased medication costs at a time when income is often fixed; together with isolation and reduced cognitive ability leave older adults open to abuse and fraud.

The Government is well aware of how Finance Companies have defrauded these people who are already in dire straits, even depriving them of their deposits and have driven a majority of them to suicide. And at this moment in time, some of the depositors had been lucky to at least receive part of their deposits because we have Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa as President, who stepped in and was able to save some of them from an impending and imminent disaster.

It is also imperative that, without any delay or any further ado, proper legislations be enacted so as to curb and abolish frauds of this nature and impose stringent and deterrent punishments to those finance companies that violate them.

We have also to consider the fact that every senior citizen in every community is human. They have the same rights as every one of us and they are entitled to good health care. So, in addition, we have the challenges faced by those who have taken it upon themselves to taking care of them. Catering to the unique needs of older people can be a difficult and expensive task for those providing the personal care, especially as they too have many other things to do. They have kids to take care of. They have their own expenses in paying for utilities – electricity, water and telephone. At the same time this should not let their duties to push them to the wall of not giving enough care to someone who deserves it.

So it is not only Senior Citizens, there are children and grandchildren of Senior Citizens who are taking care of their parents and grand-parents. They too have invested in Treasury bills and bank Fixed Deposits so that they can help these people which they cannot afford to with their salaries and/or their usual income; and today, all are in dire straits.

An earnest and urgent appeal is made to His Excellency the President to look into the silently suffering citizens, by at least increasing the Special Scheme Deposits to, at least, a minimum of Rupees 5 Million per individual keeping, of course, in mind the senior citizens' interest and the interests of those who are taking care of them together with the younger generation undergoing various forms of disabilities; and greater their disability, greater their needs.

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