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Abandoned and Lonely: The Plight of Elderly Individuals in Urban Infrastructure

In an urban household, elderly people tend to feel left out and lonely due to the busy lives of their children and grandchildren who are obsessed with technology.

“Life was better when we were young and our family was united” - My grandma

In bustling urban environments, where progress and development often take center stage, there exists a vulnerable group often overlooked: abandoned and lonely elderly individuals. These individuals, who have been left behind by their families or find themselves disconnected from their communities, face unique challenges in navigating the urban infrastructure.

Despite being surrounded by bustling streets and a sea of people, abandoned elderly individuals often find themselves engulfed in a deep sense of social isolation. The fast-paced nature of urban life can make it difficult for them to establish meaningful connections, resulting in feelings of loneliness and alienation.

Urban infrastructure may lack sufficient support networks for the elderly, exacerbating their isolation. Traditional community structures that once provided a sense of belonging and assistance may have eroded, leaving elderly individuals without the necessary social and emotional support.

The physical design of urban spaces often fails to consider the needs of the elderly.

Insufficient accessibility features, such as ramps or handrails, make it difficult for them to navigate public areas independently. This lack of accessibility restricts their mobility, further isolating them and limiting their ability to engage with their surroundings.

Access to quality healthcare is crucial for the well-being of elderly individuals, yet in urban environments, it can be challenging to obtain. Limited healthcare facilities, long waiting times, and high costs may prevent abandoned elderly individuals from receiving the medical attention they require. This can lead to untreated health conditions and a decline in overall health.

Urban living often comes with a higher cost of living, placing additional financial burdens on elderly individuals who may already face economic difficulties. The absence of familial support can leave them struggling to meet basic needs such as housing, food, and healthcare, exacerbating their vulnerability.

Elderly individuals left abandoned in urban areas are often more susceptible to safety and security risks. They may fall victim to crime, exploitation, or abuse, as their isolation and diminished physical capabilities make them easy targets. Inadequate security measures in certain neighborhoods further compound these risks.

Rapid digitalization of urban spaces can further isolate abandoned elderly individuals who may lack the necessary technological literacy to connect with others or access essential services. Digital platforms that facilitate social interaction, e-commerce, and telehealth services may remain inaccessible to them, intensifying their sense of isolation.

The challenges faced by abandoned and lonely elderly individuals in urban infrastructure are profound and multifaceted. Addressing their needs requires a collective effort from governments, communities, and organizations to foster inclusive urban environments.

Measures should include the establishment of support networks, enhancing accessibility features, improving healthcare access, addressing economic disparities, and promoting intergenerational connections. By recognizing the value and dignity of elderly individuals and prioritizing their well-being, we can create urban spaces that are truly inclusive and compassionate, ensuring that no one is left behind in the pursuit of progress.

Written by Dhanvi Manugunta

This under-reported story has been written by a student journalist as part of the April'23 cohort of the Re-Imagining Media Program.

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