One Stop Health care Remedy for elderly

Aging as a population phenomenon is occurring throughout the world. Geriatrics is becoming more and more pertinent with a shift in the global population towards the older age group.
One Stop Health care Remedy for elderly
"People in the geriatric age group suffer from a number of clinical ailments. An elderly often has multiple chronic diseases and complex healthcare needs." [Representational Image] Pxhere [Creative Commons]

BY DR MURASSA SHAMSHAD

In the recent past, Geriatric Medicine has been addressed in the much awaited manner. The Hon'ble Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha ordered setting up of Geriatric wards for each District Hospital. Consequently, the Directorate of Health Services Kashmir constituted a team of Geriatric specialists for their monitoring.

Aging as a population phenomenon is occurring throughout the world. Geriatrics is becoming more and more pertinent with a shift in the global population towards the older age group.

This demographic transition is a consequence of low birth and low death rate coupled with improved health care and economic status. The phenomenon is more marked in the western world and is slowly being observed in the developing countries.

In India also the effect has begun to be felt. It has been seen that a higher proportion of elderly in the population indicate better health care facilities, higher literacy and awareness

All of us need to know why the two scientific disciplines related to aging are getting increased prominence throughout the world.

Gerontology

It is described as a scientific discipline which deals with the phenomenon of aging and all the issues related to this process.Geriatrics or Geriatric Medicine is a branch of medicine that deals with diseases of old age. For the sake of global comparison between countries, a cut-off point for geriatric age has been established by the United Nations at 60 yrs.

People in the geriatric age group suffer from a number of clinical ailments. An elderly often has multiple chronic diseases and complex healthcare needs. Dependence on an elder person may be of four kinds: Physical, Economic, Mental and Social dependency.

While there is an increased incidence of chronic illness with advancing age, there is also an associated vulnerability towards restriction of functional capacity which threatens to deprive the older patients of their independence. Disability is the inability of an individual to perform a task successfully because of an insufficiency in one or more areas of functional capability.

Dependency on the other hand is something that as a result of disability.

Mental health problems are prevalent in all ages, however, there is a cumulative effect that manifests itself in higher levels within post retirement populations.

Role of Family

The family network since it is closest to the elderly is important in helping them to remain both active and independent. A family’s involvement in care of an older person can begin slowly or suddenly. In situations where there is not an immediate problem, families sometimes have trouble in deciding whether there is any problem or not.

This is because many families observe changes associated with aging, do not know if they are normal or not, and start to worry. Attention to very basic issues can help families assess if there is a problem, and how serious it is.

Some warning signs include: falls, short term memory problems, weight loss the past year, periods of confusion or disorientation, calls from your parent’s neighbours or friends (if family is not living with them) expressing concern about them, difficulties performing normal daily activities. If a family member notices any of these signs, it is time to take a closer look at the elderly person.

Role of NGOs

The Non Governmental Organizations and Civil Society play the role of activists, executing programmes and delivering services and also as the mobilisers of opinions, awareness and support of the people concerned with and affected by social, economic and political problems.

Multiservice Centres

In India some voluntary organisations have set up multi service centres. These are Action for Social Help Assistance (ASHA), Centre for the welfare of Aged, Cheru Resmi Centre, Geriatric Society of India, Meals on Wheels, Help Age India, and so on in different parts of India and Family Welfare Agency and Dignity Foundation in Mumbai.

There are a number of smaller organisations working in various regions with assistance from the government and different larger organisations or donor agencies. For example, several organisations are successfully experimenting with ‘Adopt-a-Granny Programme’, mainly inspired by Help Age India and Help Age International.

Voluntary organisations must play an important role in sensitising the younger generation towards the needs of older persons, resulting in the strengthening of family relationships. Family based and community based programmes of age care are widely preferred.

Greater and more specific encouragement needs to be given to the voluntary organisations working for the care of the old. Measures should be taken to encourage and strengthen grass root level organisations where voluntary activities have not picked up yet.

A positive perception of older persons is a prerequisite for the acceptability and viability of any programme meant for the wellbeing of the old. A large number of the old are useful human resources and not dependent liabilities.

In light of the above, the J & K UT Administration introduced several landmark initiatives. Hon'ble LG Manoj Sinha virtually inaugurated the 10- bedded Geriatric ward for each District Hospital. Director Health Services Kashmir Dr Mushtaq Ahmad Rather constituted a team of geriatric specialists to promote the healthcare of the elderly.

The author is Geriatric specialist, Department of Health and Family Welfare, J&K.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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