The tremendous increase in life expectancy in India is becoming a matter of great concern for geriatric care.
Therefore, in the year 2010, the National Programme for Health Care of the Elderly introduced Health and Family Welfare. The initiative aims to promote easily affordable health care for the elderly.
However, almost a decade later, geriatric care in India is facing multiple challenges. Here’s a quick look:
Infrastructure: Better physical infrastructure is one of the leading concerns in India when it comes to elderly healthcare. A lack of support not only in a public place but also at homes is a significant hindrance in comforting the aged.
Geriatric health care services in India:
It may come as a surprise that there are only a handful of dedicated services available in the country.
Moreover, the public health care system is not very much focused on geriatrics. Further, to add to the lack of infrastructure, are issues such as limited workforce and overcrowding. Therefore, curbing this problem is a must
The Indian family-structure is transforming. People are moving from the traditional joint-families towards nuclear family types. The latter was vital to the social and economic security of seniors in the family.
Moreover, you cannot deny that the older family structure in Indian society emphasized respecting the healthcare needs of the elderly. However, there has been a change in this trend due to the nuclear family set-ups.
Seniors are more susceptible to emotional and physical insecurity. Today, there are millions of elderly individuals that live alone or with the spouse. And, this phenomenon is only rising.
The government is not spending much on geriatric health care in India. And, the same goes for the social security system. This has led to isolation and loneliness amongst the seniors in the country.
The aged people in urban settings mostly rely on domestic assistance to meet their daily needs and requirements. Moreover, the insurance policies in India are hardly elderly-centric. Some of them do not even cover existing illnesses and conditions.
Social security and pension schemes are mostly confined to those who were engaged in the public sector.
Availability of Health Care
Like most of the developing nations, the concept of geriatric health care is relatively novel in India. Although there are certain practicing physicians, they are not very familiar with the complications of aging.
If you look at home settings, the nuclear family structure has challenged adult children in providing sufficient care for the elders in the family.
Further, tertiary care hospitals in urban regions are the only ones with a dedicated geriatric out-patient department. Moreover, most of the government facilities that take care of seniors are concentrated in cities.
If you compare the elderly population between urban and rural areas, you will find that a vast majority of seniors live in rural areas. Therefore, the latter is experiencing a massive lack of healthcare availability.
Indian seniors are highly dependent on others for financial needs. And, the condition is even more critical for elderly females. The economic dependency and poverty have a direct link with neglect of health for seniors.
It is because of all these reasons that retirement communities and old-age care homes are gaining traction in the Indian society. Also, the advent of luxury retirement homes has reduced a plethora of geriatric care concerns for those who can afford it.
The retirement homes offer continuous care for the elderly as a part of assisted living. While there is still a long road ahead for geriatric care in India , such facilities are bridging the gap.