The most neglected of all developmental issues and the surest in its progression is population ageing. Ageing, a normal biological phenomenon, is a slow, imperceptible, progressive degenerative process advancing with chronological age, leading to increased functional deterioration, vulnerability and ultimately culminating to extinction of life. As stated by the National Policy on Older Persons-2013, in Bangladesh persons at their age of 60 or above will be considered as Older Persons (OP). In 2014, the honorable President of Bangladesh formally declared the older persons as Senior Citizens of the country. But in the existing socio-economic conditions of the country, most of them are living with poor health, economic hardship and social insecurity. Their capacity for doing creative and socially useful work is underestimated. They often become victims of multiple geriatric diseases involving several systems of body and mind and also family and social violance, neglect and abuse. Feeling of proximity of loss of position and status in the family and society, spectra of reduced income, insecurity and deprivation in the old age are indeed depressing. It calls for proper action programs to reduce their vulnerability and bring them in the main stream of social life as productive, healthy and dignified members of the society.
In Bangladesh, at present a small proportion (around 8%) of the total population constitutes the elderly population, but their absolute number (about 14 million) is quite significant and their rate of increase is also alarming. According to 1911, 1951, 1974, 1991, 2001 and 2011 censuses the OPs in Bangladesh were 1.37 million, 2.86 million, 4.90 million, 6.05 million, 7 million and 9.50 million respectively. Projected number of OPs in 2025, 2050 and 2061 are 20 million, 45 million and 55 million respectively. This change in population characteristics will have serious consequences on the society as well as on the overall socio-economic development of the country. The OP friendly Government of Bangladesh (GoB) has introduced Old Age Allowance Program in 1997-98 which is now covering 4 million OPs @ BDT. 500.00 per month and the total revenue budget in this item is BDT. 24 Billion. Again, the parliament passed the Maintenance of Parents Act-2013 and GoB also takes initiative to pass the National Foundation of Elderly Development Act.
The situation of older women is much worse than that of older men partly because they have longer life expectancy and limited income earning oportunities. Another alarming issue in Bangladesh is individuals, families and general mass are not aware, active and prepared for their healthy and active ageing. The rights of OPs to live with rigths and dignity should be upheld by providing sufficient care and support to enable them to pass their remaining life time in happiness and satisfaction.
Understanding the alarming ageing situation of this country Professor Dr. A K M Abdul Wahed a renowned physician of this region established an association in 1960, now Bangladesh Association for the Aged and Institute of Geriatric Medicine (BAAIGM). Justic Abdul Jabbar Khan, Dr. Kudrat-e-Khuda, Syed Murtoza Ali, Mrs. Akhter Iqbal Begum, Begum Shamsun Naher Mahmud, Mr. Alamgir M A Kabir, Govornor Mr. Zakir Hossain, Dr. Md. Ibrahim, Dr. M A Wahid, Jamaluddin Ahmed and so on made valuable contributions to the Association. BAAIGM is the oldest and largest NGO working completely on ageing issues, providing health care and welbeing of OPs irrespective of cast and creed in close collaboration with GoB and other national and international organizations.