ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Elderly Living Arrangements

Insights from North East India

The pattern of living arrangements of older adults in North East India is explored. The study is conducted on the basis of the 60th round (2004–05) of the National Sample Survey Office. We observe extreme dissimilarity in the pattern of the elderly living arrangements for the north-eastern states. The demographic variables like age, sex, marital status and number of surviving children become important determinants of the elderly living arrangements.


The world has experienced an increase in human life expectancy due to a decline in both fertility and mortality, and India is no exception to it (Chanana and Talwar 1987; Visaria 2001). In India, at the beginning of the 20th century, life expectancy was about 25 years, which increased to 66 years at the present time (Bhagat 2015). As a result, the number of older adults increased to 8% in 2011 and is expected to increase by another 12.6% in 2026 (Census of India 2011). The alarming rate of increase in the number of older people is a matter of concern for policymakers, especially with regard to the pattern of living arrangements of the elderly (Rajan and Kumar 2003; Golandaj et al 2013). It is worth mentioning here that the elderly or old age is in line with the National Policy on Older Persons adopted by Government of India in January 1999. The policy defines and identifies a person whose age is 60 years or above as senior citizen or elderly.

The changes in the age structure and the switch from joint family to nuclear family are a source of concern for the support and care of older adults in India (Gupta and Sankar 2002). This is because, with the increase in the older population, there is a simultaneous decline in the number of younger family members to take care of the older adults (Ugargol et al 2016). Moreover, in India, home-based care from family members as primary caregivers is first and often the only option for a majority of older adults (Prakash 1999). In fact, most elderly parents prefer to live with their children or family than to live alone and also expect some material assistance and social support (Alavi et al 2011). In the absence of familial support, the older adults often prefer to stay in old-age homes, provided they are economically affordable. However, in India, there are very few old-age homes for the deprived and the poor elderly run by the state and central governments. In India, the institutionalisation of the aged is not popular and these facilities are not accessible, especially to the rural areas (Dandekar 1993, 1996). In such a situation, the living arrangements of older adults are of great concern. It refers to a type of family in which the elderly live, the headship they enjoy, the place they stay in and the people they stay with, the kind of relationship they maintain with their kith and kin and, on the whole, the extent to which they adjust to the changing environment (Rajan et al 1995).

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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