India’s life expectancy at birth has seen significant growth over the past 45 years, increasing from 49.7 in the 1970s to 69.7 after 2015. This improvement can be attributed to advancements in medical care, improved social conditions, and better accessibility to healthcare.


  • India is currently reaping the benefits of the demographic dividend due to its average age of 28.4 years. However, the proportion of senior citizens is projected to rise from 7.5% in 2001 to 12.5% in 2021.
  • The Quality of Life for Elderly Index indicates an increasing trend in the old age dependency ratio, with a change from 14.2% in 2011 to 15.7% in 2021. This demographic shift presents complex health issues, including:
  • The rising burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) among the elderly, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and eye disorders. India is projected to suffer significant economic losses, estimated at $4.3 trillion between 2012 and 2030, due to NCDs (WEF report).
  • Mental health problems are prevalent among older people in India, with one in five suffering from such issues. Additionally, 75% of them also have a chronic illness (Lasi, a longitudinal study on aging in India, 2021), leading to increased isolation and loneliness.
  • Older individuals face higher risks during disasters, with 33% of those at risk being elderly.
  • Healthcare expenses have increased for the elderly, who often lack health insurance and are ineligible due to their age. Older households experience healthcare costs that are 3.8 times higher compared to non-elderly households (NSSO survey).
  • Geriatric care specialization is lacking in India’s medical field, with no dedicated study of geriatrics in Indian Medical Science.

Ways to address these challenges:

  • Institutions like AIIMS should lead the way in promoting healthy aging, especially during the WHO-designated “Decade of Healthy Aging” from 2020 to 2030.
  • The government, through Ayushman Bharat, should prioritize improving healthcare accessibility, non-communicable disease management, vision and hearing problem management, and lifestyle changes.
  • The public-private partnership (PPP) system and insurance can be utilized to provide free medical care for the elderly.
  • Establishing a well-organized framework would help direct corporate social responsibility programs towards addressing the needs of the elderly.
  • Enhancing facilities to enable seniors to age in place while maintaining their physical and mental well-being and staying connected to their families and communities.
  • Old People’s Associations (OPAs) can play a significant role in supporting local causes, identifying specific elderly individuals who require special care, and coordinating tasks among their members.
  • Shifting the focus from reactive to proactive and holistic care is crucial, particularly as many children are geographically distant from their aging parents due to professional reasons.
  • Health insurance companies should adopt a “Health First” strategy to interact with senior citizens and provide comprehensive health support systems, influencing and enabling informed decisions regarding their health and healthcare.


By investing in community engagement for the elderly, we can enhance their well-being and overall health. Simultaneously, this investment has the potential to improve the health and well-being of entire communities.

Legacy Editor Changed status to publish January 17, 2024