In Islam we know the importance of caring for elderly relatives. But, for the millions of people in Pakistan who already live in extreme poverty providing all of the food, healthcare and basic costs for elderly relatives is a real struggle. Alongside this the decreasing birth rates and increasing life expectancy in the region means millions of families are no longer able to properly provide for their relatives. Even for elderly people who are relying on money from relatives abroad often it can be not enough for even their basic needs.
Zohra Foundation has seen that when the elderly are completely reliant on hand-outs from their relatives it makes them feel like a burden. They are reluctant to communicate any health or emotional problems out of fear of causing issues with their family. For example, side effects of elderly conditions like bladder control are taboo subjects and as such not dealt with properly by caregivers. In the long-term this causes more shame and embarrassment for the elderly within their own family.
The elderly in Pakistan have been used to providing for their families. The loss of income, status and respect as head of a household can be a huge emotional process of loneliness and economic insecurity. In particular women, who usually live longer and have less financial means than men, face an uncertain time. They are often left feeling isolated, rejected and even face emotional and physical abuse from their families. Today in Pakistan a growing number of elderly men and women are suffering from depression, financial exploitation, deprivation. In the last five years suicide rates amongst the elderly in the region has increased and thousands of women and men are facing an uncertain, lonely, frightening future.