It has been some time since India's population breached the one billion mark, but a recent survey has revealed that this overwhelming sea of people has done little to make the elderly less lonely.
Working on the sample size of 10,000 elderly people, Delhi-based NGO Agewell Foundation found that almost every fourth elderly -- 23.44 percent of the respondents -- was living alone in the country.
"Almost every second elderly (48.88 percent) is living with their spouse only, while about 26. 5 percent are living with their children or other family members," the survey reported.
The condition is worse in urban areas, where 25.3 percent of elderly people are found living alone in comparison to 21.38 percent in rural areas.
It was also observed that a larger number of older persons preferred to live alone or with their spouse only. And though they enjoyed their independence, a problem for them lies in their being "financially dependent" on others.
"Only 36.81 were financially independent in the autumn of their life," the survey claimed.
On the other hand, 68.24 percent enjoyed ideological independence, 60.54 percent psychological independence, 69.54 percent social independence and 61.81 percent physical independence.
During the survey, about 88.5 percent of the elder said they needed healthcare services to ensure their independence in old age.
"There is an urgent need to make every older person financially independent in old age so that they can afford long-term care and palliative care, whenever they need it.
"Provisions for ensuring independence in old age and long-term/palliative care for frail elderly must be made at all levels – family, community, and government," Himanshu Rath, founder of Agewell Foundation, said.
Conducted during the months of May and June this year, the survey was spread across 20 states across India.