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Why are old age people neglected by the family members?

Old age is often seen as a period of decline and dependency. As people grow older, they require more care and support. However, in many cases, elderly family members do not receive the care and attention they need from younger family members. Neglect of the elderly is a major social issue across the world. There are various reasons why old people may be neglected by their own families.

Changing Family Structures

One of the main reasons is the change in family structures over the past few decades. Previously, it was common for extended families with multiple generations to live together under one roof. The elderly were respected, cared for, and felt needed within these traditional family units.

However, urbanization and modernization have led to the rise of nuclear families where only the parents and their children live together. Elderly relatives are often left to live alone or in care homes. They no longer feel an integral part of the family unit. Adult children struggle to balance the demands of work, raising their own kids, and caring for aging parents.

Breakdown of the Joint Family System

The joint family system ensured that the elderly were not isolated and received care within the family home. But the rise of nuclear families has weakened these traditional bonds. Sons and daughters-in-law may see elderly relatives as a burden interfering with their independent lifestyle.

Migration of Younger Family Members

Many working-age people relocate from rural areas and small towns to bigger cities for employment. This leaves elderly parents and grandparents behind in the villages without caregivers or companionship. Even when children live in the same city as parents, busy schedules mean they cannot regularly visit or attend to ageing parents.

Health Issues Faced by the Elderly

A variety of health issues arise as people grow older. Some common age-related problems are:

  • Loss of mobility
  • Failing eyesight and hearing
  • Forgetfulness and dementia
  • Heart problems
  • Weakened bones and risk of falls/fractures

Caring for an elderly person with chronic illnesses and restricted mobility can be demanding. Younger family members may not have the time, patience, skills, or resources to provide adequate care.

Physical Dependence

Daily activities like walking, bathing, dressing, and eating become difficult for the elderly. When they are physically dependent on others for basic tasks, family members may find it burdensome.

Psychological Issues

Many older adults also suffer from psychological issues like depression and anxiety. Dementia can cause severe behavioral changes and personality shifts. Caring for an elderly relative with mental health issues requires emotional strength.

Financial Burden

Treatment of age-related diseases and hiring professional caretakers involves high costs. Not all families can afford expensive medical care and caregiving services for elderly relatives over long periods.

Societal Attitudes Towards the Elderly

Negative attitudes and perceptions about the elderly are prevalent in society. These also contribute to neglect within families.


Discrimination against old people is referred to as ageism. Elderly individuals are seen as frail, dependent, and incompetent. Youth and productivity are glorified while aging is viewed as shameful. Older people internalize these prejudiced beliefs and develop low self-worth.

Lack of Intergenerational Bonding

Earlier, regular interactions between young and old family members led to emotional bonds and understanding between generations. But today’s youth often perceive elderly relatives as outdated and unable to keep up with modern technology and lifestyles. This inhibits meaningful relationships from developing.

Perception of Elderly as Burden

Due to ageism, senior citizens are viewed as an economic and emotional burden by younger family members. Caring for them is seen as a tiresome obligation rather than a valuable family duty.

Impact of Neglect on the Elderly

Being neglected by loved ones has wide-ranging consequences on the health and wellbeing of seniors.

Physical Effects

– Malnutrition and dehydration
– Poor hygiene
– Untreated medical problems
– Frequent injuries and accidents

This increases morbidity and mortality risk.

Psychological Effects

– Loneliness
– Abandonment issues
– Depression and anxiety
– Increased suicide risk

Neglect can hasten cognitive decline.

Social Effects

– Isolation
– Lack of emotional fulfillment
– Erosion of dignity and self-worth

Neglected elderly have higher rates of elder abuse too.

How Can We Support the Elderly?

Greater action is required at societal and family levels to eliminate neglect and protect the rights of senior citizens.

Policy Measures

– Governments should frame laws to ensure needs of the elderly are met. Programs for financial aid, housing, healthcare etc. can be introduced.

– Public awareness campaigns must address ageism and emphasize the wisdom elderly can share.

– Retirement homes with trained staff can provide caring environments to neglected seniors.

Family Efforts

– Children should make time for regular communication and visits to parents.

– Help with mobility, medical care, household tasks is crucial. Hiring trained nurses can reduce burden on working children.

– Grandparent-grandchild bonds should be nurtured through activities done together.

– Seeking support from relatives can distribute responsibilities of caring for the elderly.

Community Support

– Neighbors can check in frequently on elderly living alone.

– Trusted groups/NGOs can be authorized to monitor and assist vulnerable seniors.

– Social centers for the elderly to meet and socialize can counter isolation.


Neglect of the elderly stems from erosion of traditional family structures, attitudes of indifference, and lack of resources. Support at governmental, societal and familial levels is urgently required to enable active, dignified and fulfilling lives for senior citizens. The elderly have a lifetime of wisdom to share and deserve to age with grace and love.