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In Iran too, 60 years has been legalized as the retirement age by the Health Ministry and the Secretariat of National Council of the Elderly (SNCE).
In Iran too, 60 years has been legalized as the retirement age by the Health Ministry and the Secretariat of National Council of the Elderly (SNCE).

Costs and Concerns

Seniors’ growing solitude and seclusion is a reason for concern, although the culture of filial duty and respecting the elderly is still prevalent in the Iranian society

Costs and Concerns

The prospective growth of the elderly population has raised concerns about their social welfare and financial support. Demographic changes have placed Iran among the countries facing an ageing population and currently people over 60 make up 8.2% of the total population that recently crossed 80 million.
According to the WHO, most of the developed countries have accepted the chronological age of 65 years to define ‘elderly’ but in many developing countries 60 is considered the age for seniority.
In Iran too, 60 years has been legalized as the retirement age by the Health Ministry and the Secretariat of National Council of the Elderly (SNCE). The last population census in 2011 put the number of seniors (60+) at 6.2 million.    
In 1956, the elderly constituted 3% and in 1966 5.3% of the population. This figure rose to 8.2% in 2011 and is expected to reach 10% by 2025 and between 20% and 25% by 2051.
“This means the number of elderly will almost double in 35 years and is expected to equal the number of under-15 population within 60 years,” said Anoushirvan Mohseni Bandpei, head of the State Welfare Organization, addressing a press conference on the occasion of the International Day of Older Persons (October 1), IRNA reported.
The demographic changes have given rise to questions about the state’s ability and capacity to meet the growing needs of the graying population. One of the adverse effects of the demographic imbalances will be reflected in the number of caregivers for the elderly.
“Executive organizations may soon face challenges such as caring for seniors abandoned by their families, some of whom suffer from Alzheimer’s,” he said.
Over the past two decades the SWO has been dealing with the issue of abandoned children, “but today we have abandoned elders too,” Bandpei recalled, adding that seniors’ growing solitude and seclusion is a reason for concern, although the culture of filial duty and respecting the elderly is still prevalent in the Iranian society.
Seniors’ loneliness, especially after the death of a spouse, is also a major cause for worry since it can provoke mental and emotional distress. The problem gets exacerbated as the ageing population is increasingly made up of women. 
Based on the 2011 census, women make up 51% of the senior population. But studies suggest that there are three single elderly women for every single elderly male.  
According to data, the gender gap between single elderly people is bigger in less privileged areas. In Gilan, with 11% elderly population, the proportion of single women to single men is two to one while in Ilam where the elderly make up 8% of its people, the ratio is four to one.
Saeed Baratisadeh, head of the Seniors Office at the SWO, expressed concern about the fact that the number of single old women is increasing while sufficient infrastructure for their support is lacking.

  Supporting Measures
A national document for the elderly has been prepared by the SWO which deals with social assistance for them while another one by the Health Ministry addresses their medical requirements.
The SWO has proposed the merging of the two documents to improve their effectiveness, but the ministry is not interested, Baratisadeh maintained.
Currently, between 600,000 and 700,000 elderly are covered by the organization and 100,000 are under care in 24-hour as well as daycare homes through financial subsidies. Residents of day centers are given 3-3.5 million rials ($85-$100) each and six million rials ($171) each is given to those in 24-hour nursing homes.
Also, this year, for the first time, from the SWO budget of $516 million, a paltry amount has been earmarked for care of senior citizens.
The SWO plans to use the funds for providing transport for seniors, changing the lifestyle of 45,000 elderly women in 10 provinces in cooperation with the Vice Presidency for Women and Family Affairs, launching projects in all provinces to address elderly issues, promoting their medical care and other courses in cooperation with education centers, and recreation clubs. In two deprived provinces of Ilam and Sistan-Baluchestan, a part of the health costs for senior citizens will be covered, said Baratisadeh, khabaronline.ir reported.  
According to the census, Gilan has the oldest population in the country with older persons constituting 11%, and Sistan-Baluchestan is the youngest province with 4.8% comprising the elderly.  
Urban facilities are also on the SWO aganda. Plans to make urban structures convenient for the elderly are slated to be carried out in Tabriz, capital of East Azarbaijan, and Isfahan city.
“These cities have the required infrastructure and attract a considerable number of elderly domestic as well as foreign tourists.”
A scheme to provide transport for seniors is set to be piloted in Mazandaran Province.
Another plan is underway to change the view of philanthropists about the needs of older persons and shift their focus from merely building nursing homes. “We want to encourage them to consider other requirements of these people, such as rehabilitation,” the official said.
For senior citizens who have a residence, homecare through financial assistance has been envisioned. That means either trained nurses will be sent to look after them in their homes or the cost of caring in 24-hour care centers will be paid.
“In cooperation with the University of Applied Science and Technology, the Social Security Organization (SSO) and the Nursing and Social Work Councils, we will hold specialized elderly home-caring courses,” said Baratisadeh, adding that families will have to pay for the care services.
He pointed to the law for elderly support submitted to the Cooperatives Ministry. “Once it is approved, it will be sent to the cabinet for ratification.”
Although most of the affairs regarding senior citizens are within the purview of the SWO’s responsibilities, it requires cooperation from other executive bodies as well, such as the Health Ministry and the SSO, he noted.

 

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