Institute for Social and Economic Change
Working Paper: 291
Living Arrangement Preferences and Health of the
Institutionalised Elderly in Odisha
Akshaya Kumar Panigrahi
T S Syamala
Research work on the living arrangement preferences of the elderly in the Indian context is very scanty. A few studies dealing with the living arrangement preferences of the elderly concentrates on the elderly living in households, leaving out the institutionalised elderly. This study, therefore, looks into the living arrangement preferences of the institutionalised elderly in Odisha. This paper is based on the data collected from the three old age homes in Odisha covering 50 respondents. Data was collected through a survey of the inmates of the old age homes and through detailed case studies. This study shows that the elderly residing in these old age homes are poor, helpless, destitute majority are from the vulnerable sections of the society. Older-olds, widowed, economically dependent, childless and sick elderly are more vulnerable compared to others. Family conflicts, lack of money and ill health are the major reasons for the elderly to depend on old age homes. Lack of children is not the major reason for the elderly to depend on institutions as majority of the residents had children. Most of the elderly live in institutions due to various compulsions rather than by choice. The living arrangement preferences of the elderly clearly show that most of them to live with family. Since majority prefers to live with family, large proportions that stay in the old age homes are not in concordance with their living arrangement. The incidence of poor health and disability is higher among the institutionalised elderly. Overall, the elders preferred to live with the family but also considered old age homes as an alternative for care in the event of family conflict. The old age homes may be the next and alternative especially for those who are poor, sick and have no family.