Geriatric Care in India by Nema
India is in a phase of demographic transition. It’s projected that the elderly population will rise to 324 million by the year 2050. India is “an aging nation” with about 10% of its population being more than 60 years old. This demographic transition is due to the decreasing fertility and mortality rates due to the availability of better health care services. A new set of medical, social, and economic hardships could rise unless timely initiative is taken by the policymakers.
Improving the quality of life for the elderly is a huge challenge. The medical and socio-economic problems being faced by the elderly need to be highlighted.
Medical and Socio-economic Problems Faced by the Elderly
The elderly in India suffer from contagious as well as non–contagious diseases. Among the elderly over the age of 60 years, 10% experience impaired physical mobility, and more than 10% are hospitalized at any given time. Both proportions keep rising with increasing age. In the population over 70 years of age, more than 50% suffer from chronic conditions. Chronic illnesses typically include hypertension, coronary heart disease, and cancer. While more than 30% of elderly mortality is due to cardiovascular disorders, 10% ensue to respiratory disorders, and about 4% each for nutritional, metabolic, gastrointestinal, and genito-urinary infections. The most common morbidity is Hearing impairment followed by visual impairment. Obesity is another major issue due to a sedentary lifestyle and decreased physical activity.
Seniors are profoundly inclined to mental morbidities because of aging of the brain, issues related to physical well being, cerebral pathology, socio-economic factors, for example, breakdown of the family supportive networks, and diminishing of economic freedom. The psychological issue experienced incorporates dementia and mood disorders. Other disorders could be neurotic and personality disorders, drug and alcohol abuse, delirium and mental psychosis.
Geriatric care in India is in nascent stage with facilities available only in Tertiary hospitals in metros.
The Family Structure
Rapid urbanization and societal modernization have brought in its wake, a breakdown in family values and the structure of family support, economic insecurity, loneliness, and elderly abuse leading to a substantial number of psychological illnesses. The socio-economic problems of the elderly are intensified by multiple factors like the lack of social security, scant facilities for health care, rehabilitation, and recreation. Retired elderly people are confronted with the problems of financial insecurity as well as loneliness.
The Elderly Abuse
Overall 75% of the economically dependent elderly are supported by their children and grandchildren. More than 80% of the elderly confessed to having increased stress and psychological problems in modern society and conflicts within the family. The elders are also prone to abuse in their families or institutional settings. This includes physical abuse (infliction of pain or injury), psychological or emotional abuse (infliction of mental anguish and illegal exploitation), and sexual abuse. Verbal abuse is normally followed by financial abuse, physical abuse, and utter neglect.
World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that deaths from chronic diseases such as cancer, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes will increase substantially by more than 15% in elderlies. We must spread knowledge and awareness about the disease and take steps for their prevention and management. Good nutrition and a balanced diet, and physical exercise is a must. A positive mindset should be promoted, thus creating a feeling of wellbeing. NEMA eldercare includes meditation, routine prayers, and motivational lectures for an optimal outcome. (https://nemacare.com/chronic-condition-care-india.php)
According to the findings of the 60th NSSO Round, the proportion of elderly persons who cannot move and are confined to their bed or home are in the range of 77 per 1000 in cities itself. NEMA supports strengthening the elderly in the process of self-help. It is done using physical, psychosocial, and vocational rehabilitation. It includes:
(i) Visual aids/mobility aids at geriatric health facilities (elder-homes)
(ii) physiotherapy services, and
(iii) imparting health education about staying mobile and providing practical tips.
Rehabilitation services at NEMA comprise of provisions for counseling services wherein the elderly benefit from psychological assistance in the face of stressful life events, interpersonal conflicts, and changes imposed by aging.
NEMA Approachfor Geriatric care in India
NEMA’s approach to Geriatric care in India is to have a “multi-disciplinary healthcare team” meeting the needs of the geriatric population. The healthcare team consists of a physician, psychiatrist, orthopaedician, diabetologist, gynecologist, cardiologist, urologist, eye surgeon, psychologist, physiotherapist, dietician, dentist, and nurses trained in geriatric medicine. (https://nemacare.com/doctors.php)
NEMA has also launched a Daycare center from its elder home providing close supervision and follow-up of patients with chronic diseases. The cost of daycare is very low compared to resident care. In its elder home, it can take care of terminally ill patients too. (https://nemacare.com/day-care-india.php)
In conclusion, current trends in demographics coupled with rapid urbanization and lifestyle changes have contributed to the emergence of a host of problems faced by the elderly in India.
Improving the quality-of-life of the elderly calls for a holistic approach and concerted efforts by the eldercare & healthcare sectors.