New Delhi: Rise in nuclear families is leading to gross violation of the human rights of senior citizens in India who end up living a lonely life. The insensitiveness towards elderly in turn has a negative impact on their emotional and physical well being, says a recent study.

There is lack of awareness among older persons about their human rights, adds the pan India study conducted by Delhi-based NGO working for the welfare of the senior citizens.

Based on a representative sample of 50,000 senior citizens (29000 from rural areas and 21000 from urban areas) spread across 300 districts covering 25 states and Union Territories, the study showed that senior citizens face discrimination due to old age.

"In today's fast paced life, even basic needs and rights of many of the senior citizens are not addressed. Social marginalisation, loneliness, isolation and even negligence in old age lead to violation of their human rights. Our study aims to assess the ground situation and find ways to address it," says Himanshu Rath, founder, Agewell Foundation.

60.54 per cent older persons interviewed during survey were found living alone or in nuclear families. Interestingly, 22,250 respondents said they would like to live in a joint family but their circumstances do not allow them.

The violation of human rights of older persons is higher in urban areas of the country in comparison to rural areas, it being 85.9 per cent, the study reveals.

The situation is critical in rural areas, as only 4.81 per cent senior citizens said that they have heard about human rights.

The situation is slightly better in urban areas, where 28.04 per cent older persons expressed knowledge about human rights.

Discrimination due to old age is one of the most common problems faced by the senior citizens, says the study, as 47.4 per cent said they have experienced it. 52.35 per cent
in urban areas and 44.1per cent in rural areas accepted that due to their age, they were humiliated occasionally or treated disrespectfully.

"Old Age has become hell for us as our daughter-in-law mistreats us. For the sake of happiness of our son and grand- children, we prefer to keep quiet and ignore her misbehavior," says Pankaj Luthra (75) and Nirmla Devi (71) from Munirka in New Delhi.

No proper access to food was expressed as a concern by 12.9 per cent older persons, comprising  3,101 rural elderly and 3,343 urban ones.

"My son, daughter-in-law and grand-children keep me locked from outside whenever they go out. Sometimes, even for days, I have to live in conditions like that of a prison. They take all my pension money and scold me when I spend money without their permission," says 81-year-old Dayaram Bhandari from Indore.