State of Elderly in India 2014


This report by HelpAge India documents the status of the elderly in India and outlines the major problems faced by them. It uses surveys, statistics, laws, and analyses of budgetary allocations for elderly care. HelpAge India is a non-governmental organisation that works with the disadvantaged elderly.

The report is a compilation of articles on ageing populations and the fact that many elders live without family, societal and state support. In particular, the report provides information about the India’s ‘oldest old’ (the 80-plus population) and the support systems available to them; the causes of elder abuse and redress mechanisms available to elders; the state of old-age pensions; destitution among the elderly; and laws that safeguard the interests of senior citizens.


  1. Census 2001 estimated India’s ‘oldest old’ (80-plus population) at 8.03 million, of which 2.02 million lived in urban areas. In 2014, there were around 10 million 80-plus persons in India, and this number is expected to rise to 53 million by 2050.

  2. The NSSO’s 52nd round survey (1995-96) found that 63 per cent of India’s elderly were illiterate.

  3. A 2010 HelpAge India survey of 833 people over the age of 80 in 8 cities found that 10 per cent of all respondents live alone. Of these, 29.9 per cent have no support from their children and 41.5 per cent live alone because their children work or live in another place.

  4. Around 64.9 per cent of the 2010 survey’s respondents live in their own houses. Of these, 91 per cent live in the Delhi NCR, 79 per cent in Mumbai and 78 per cent in Patna. 

  5. Around 36.1 of all respondents have a monthly household income of less than Rs. 2,500 and 12 per cent are engaged in some kind of economic activity. The average monthly income of all respondents is Rs. 4,381.

  6. Around 72 per cent of all respondents are financially dependent on someone else. 70  per cent said that their sons take care of them in times of ill health, but nearly 27 per cent said they are forced to manage their health on their own, and close to 22 per cent needed the help of their spouse.

  7. 60.4 per cent of all respondents said that their daughters-in-law help them with their daily routine – washing clothes, meals, buying medicines and other necessities. 31.9 per cent said they take care of their daily needs themselves.

  8. 19.4 per cent of all respondents have faced some kind of abuse. Verbal abuse is the most common, followed by neglect, disrespect, emotional abuse, economic abuse and physical abuse. Abuse can exacerbate the health problems of elders, as reported by 82 per cent of respondents who have faced physical abuse and 65 per cent who have experienced verbal abuse.

  9. All the respondents said their most important needs are free medical treatment, followed by healthcare and financial aid. Almost half of them said they also require community support in the form of medical aid, healthcare provider services, help during emergencies, help with their daily routines, mobility and finding income-generating activities, and financial support. However, only one-fifth of them received such support.

  10. 55.3 per cent of all respondents said their major health problem is body pain, 49.5 per cent complained of eye problems and 32.3 per cent of hypertension. About half the respondents considered their health to be poor or very poor.

  11. In 2014, HelpAge India did another survey on elder abuse in 12 cities. Each city had a sample size of 100 elders, with an equal ratio of men and women. 61 per cent of all respondents said that daughters-in-law are the main perpetrators of abuse, and 59 per cent said that the main perpetrators are sons.

  12. For old age security, the union government has formulated the Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension (IGNOAPS) and various states have implemented their own old age pension schemes too. Among the states, Goa emerges as a model for old age security because it has no income criteria and has a universal pension scheme of Rs. 2,000 per month for those above 60.

  13. A study on the destitute elderly in nine zones of Delhi (chapter 5) found a feminisation of ageing: out of a total of 97 respondents, 66 were female and 33 male. The study’s results showed that, among older persons, the number of recipients of government schemes and programmes was very insignificant compared to the size of the needy elderly population.

  14. Under the Maintenance and Welfare Act for Senior Citizens, 2007, parents and grandparents can demand maintenance from their children in the form of food, clothing, residence, medical attendance and treatment. However, the Act has been unsatisfactorily implemented by state governments. 

    Focus and Factoids by Sara Sohail.


HelpAge India
Documentation and compilation: Mathew Cherian 
Editorial review: Manjira Khurana, Jyoti Kumar Sarma, Sonali Sharma and Anupama Datta


HelpAge India, New Delhi


20 Feb, 2015