Instead of being a burden to the society, elderly people -- aged above 60 -- can also contribute to the nation if they are engaged in income-generating activities, speakers said at a roundtable yesterday.
When someone crosses 60, it does not mean that person has no efficiency left. If the elderly are economically empowered, their families and society will also take good care of them, they added.
The speakers suggested that the government introduce a universal pension scheme for all, train more caregivers for “super-elderlies” [over 80] and implement the national policy for senior citizens.
Bangla daily Prothom Alo in association with HelpAge International, Bangladesh organised the discussion on protection of elderly people at the newspaper’s office in Dhaka.
Rashed Khan Menon, chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on social welfare ministry, said the country wants to go forward including everyone in its development activities. So, there is no chance of leaving the elderly behind.
“Economic empowerment of senior citizens is very important. It will help increase their efficiency or value in society,” added the former social welfare minister.
Sharifa Begum, a former senior research fellow at Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies, said majority of super-elderlies faces various physical constraints and at least one-third of them suffer from mental health issues.
“Families should take proper care of senior members... But most of us don’t value their needs and necessities, which isn’t supposed to happen,” she said.
Sharifa proposed to remove the age limit (59-60) to retire from government jobs. Instead of retiring, a senior person may work part-time with reduced salary, she proposed.
Planning Minister MA Mannan said more old homes should be built so that the elderly, who have nowhere to go, can spent their last few years peacefully.
Prof ASM Atiqur Rahman, secretary general of Bangladesh Probin Hitoishi Sangha; Abdul Quayum, associate editor of Prothom Alo; and Rabeya Sultana, country director of HelpAge, also spoke at the event.