An et al. (1992) 17 observed that

An universally applicable definition of what
constitutes old age is elusive. In many developing countries, old age is seen
to begin at the point when active contribution is no longer possible 5. It is
often erroneously assumed that older individuals become senile and lose their
ability to function physically and intellectually. Although some individuals
may develop illness or become compromised physically and mentally, it is
possible for older persons to maintain a high degree of physical and
intellectual activity into their very late years 6.





Aging is one of the emerging problems in Bangladesh.
This problem has been gradually increasing with its far reaching consequences. According
to BBS (2001)7 percentage of aged population (60+) is only 6.13. This number
will reach 14.6 million (about 9 percent of the total population) by the year
2025 (Concepcion, 1987; East-West Center, 2002) 8,9 . But Abedin (1996) 10
focused on “The aging in SAARC Countries” does not appear to be alarming till
to-day-percentages of the elderly vary between 5 to 6.

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Living arrangements are an important component of
the overall well-being of the elderly. In the absence of well-developed systems
for providing social services to the elderly, the elderly must rely on those with
whom they live in close proximity for economic, social and physical support as
their economic productivity and health declining (Domingo and Casterline, 1992)
11. In Thailand, there is a widespread expectation that the elderly will be
taken care of by their children and that at least one child will co-reside with
them (Cowgill, 1972; Knodel, Havanon and Pramualratana, 1984; Pramualratna,
1990; Tuchrello, 1989) 12,13,14,15. It was found that survival of elderly is
increased if they live with a spouse or sons and daughters (Mostafa and
Ginneken, 2000) 16. Murray et al. (1992) 17 observed that the ratio
of self-perceived morbidity varies by disease and across communities. They
found that morbidity generally increases with age, is greater for men than
women, and is more common among the rich than the poor. Although social support
has a major impact on the health and well-being of the elderly, it is less
clear how this effect might operate (George, 1989) 18. Unlike elderly men,
who may have their wives to depend on when they fall ill, older women are quite
likely to have to rely on children and other relatives. Older women face different
health problem compared to older men. From a study by Kabir (1994) 19, the
aged in Bangladesh shows a depressing picture. In this survey, among other things,
about 77 per cent of the total sample reported that they did not have adequate income
to meet their basic needs. One out of every three in the sample suggested that
government should come forward to help the aged, while some also suggested that
the state should provide food and medical treatment at a nominal cost. So, the
long term caring need of the aged in terms of community and institution based services
is going to be a matter of great concern. A survey study on living arrangements
of the elderly and their sources of support reveal a predominant pattern of
co-residence with their spouse and/or their children (Samad and Abedin, 1999)
20 and those who are not co-residents but live in close proximity of children
and spouse. Thus, the living and health care arrangements of the elderly in view
of demographic change and socio-economic transformation taking place in this
country and also to explore the current situation and future trend of
population aging under the changing condition, proper investigation is firmly
needed. This study aims to fulfil this need.




Health is a major concern of old age. It was found
by Mostafa and Streatfield (2003) 21 that worries among the poor were
probably about inadequate economic support, poor health, inadequate living
space, unfinished familial tasks, lack of recreational facilities and the
problems of spending time. Many questions revealed information about health conditions
of the elderly. According to Fillenbaum (1984) 22, selfperceived health
status may be better indicator of potential service use than of actual health
condition. However, self-assessments of health are common components of population-based
surveys. To calculate the health status respondents were asked a question ‘what
is your current health status?’ The answers were recorded on a three-point scale:
Healthy, fairly healthy and unhealthy.  Sex
is one of the key variables in health research.  Some studies (Strauss et al., 1992 )
23 found that health problems increase with age, but that women reported more
health problems at earlier ages than do men. Lack of education is also
associated with poorer health. Health events are usually more frequent and
become confused with one another. The illness of the elderly are multiple and
chronic in nature. In old age the elderly are found to suffer from diseases
like arthritis, gastric, blood pressure, diabetes, asthma and so on. Prevalence
of malnutrition, eye-sight problems, hearing problems among the olds are also
observed (BDHS, 2000)24. The health problems in old age are often compounded
by attributing ailment of onset of old age.


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