Monday, 13 March 2017

Forget me Not: IMA Campaign for the Elderly

Forget me Not: IMA Campaign for the Elderly The global demography is changing with a considerable increase in the older population in almost all countries. A greater understanding of etiopathogenesis of many diseases leading to newer and more effective treatment options has improved life expectancy. Not just medical advances, economic growth and social development too have contributed to the rising aging population. “According to Population Census 2011 there are nearly 104 million elderly persons (aged 60 years or above) in India” (Elderly in India 2016 Report). “The global share of older people aged 60 years or over is expected to increase from 11.7% in 2013 to 21.1% by 2050. Presently, about two thirds of the world’s older persons live in developing countries. By 2050, nearly 8 in 10 of the world’s older population will live in the less developed regions. An Indian born in 1950 could expect to live for 37 years, whereas today India’s life expectancy at birth nearly doubled to 68 years, by 2050, it is projected to increase to 76 years. As a result, India’s population will rise from 1.3 billion today to an estimated 1.7 billion by 2050, with a much larger elderly share of around 340 million” (Press Information Bureau, March 22, 2016). Heart disease, dementia, diabetes, arthritis, cataract, sleep problems, depression, anxiety are some of the common health conditions prevalent in the elderly. And, most of these conditions co-exist, giving rise to polypharmacy, which has its own associated set of problems. In addition to these are the issues of disability, financial insecurity, isolation, loneliness, neglect. Left alone at home, they are also exposed to crime. From being usefully occupied for most part of their lives, they find themselves with plenty of time on their hands post-retirement. Hence, the challenges are not just health related but also economic and social. The elderly are a vulnerable group and need to be looked after. They can still contribute to the society. By neglecting them, we are losing out on their skill and years of experience. Efforts need to be made to improve quality of their lives and integrate them in the society. Health care for this population group in particular should be accessible and affordable; they need to be protected from ill-treatment and neglect. Those who wish to be productively engaged should be encouraged to do so. “Article 41, a Directive Principle of State Policy, provides that the State shall, within the limits of its economic capacity and development, make effective provision for securing the right of public assistance in cases of old age. The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and senior Citizen Act, 2007, also known as “Senior Citizens Act” explicitly states that it should be the duty of the children to maintain their parents.” (Press Information Bureau, October 1, 2015). “The National Policy on Older Persons (NPOP) announced in 1999 envisages State support for the elderly to ensure financial and food security, health care, shelter, protection against abuse and exploitation, and training of human resources for their care and support etc. The policy also covers issues like social security, intergenerational bonding, family as the primary caretaker, role of Non-Governmental Organizations, training of manpower, research and training.” (Press Information Bureau, August 5, 2014) The “National Programme for the Health Care of Elderly” (NPHCE) was launched in the year 2010 to address health related problems of elderly people. Last year, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare launched the Longitudinal Ageing Study in India (LASI) to generate data on various issues of the elderly. It will survey more than 60,000 elderly over 25 years plan. October 1 has been designated as the International Day of Older Persons by the United Nations to raise awareness about issues affecting the elderly. “Forget me Not” is a campaign proposed by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) for the elderly population enabling them to lead a healthy and productive life with dignity. Doctors need to be trained to take care of the special needs of the older people. As doctors, we should not only provide them medical care, but also be a support to them. Dr KK Aggarwal National President IMA and HCFI

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