Geriatrics Healthcare

Geriatrics Healthcare

Geriatrics Healthcare

An ageing population tends to have a higher prevalence of chronic diseases, physical disabilities, mental illnesses and other co-morbidities. The health needs and health related problems of elderly people cannot be viewed in isolation.

A wide gamut of determinants such as followings determine the medical problems and thus cast a significant impact on the quality-of-life of the elderly.

  • Social concerns (viz. children moving out of their parents’ home in search of occupation, leaving them isolated without any physical support in daily activities);

  • Maltreatment towards elderly;

  • Poor knowledge and awareness about the risk factors;

  • Food and nutritional requirements;

  • Psycho-emotional concerns (viz. isolation, mental stress, difficulty in keeping themselves occupied);

  • Financial constraints (viz. definite reduction in income upon retirement, to the extent that it may interfere with bare needs of life as adequate nutrition, clothing and shelter);

  • Health-care system factors (viz. most countries lack effective health insurance system for elderly coupled with accessibility concerns and inadequacies in the government health-care system);

  • Physical correlates;

Prevention and control of health problems of elderly necessitates a multifaceted approach incorporating active collaboration of health, social welfare, rural/urban development and legal sectors. A community based geriatric health-care program should start with the development of a comprehensive policy so as to include not only medical aspects, but other determinants as well.

Other measures

The following measures can be implemented in a strategic manner for achieving the best outcome.

  1. Improvement in the health knowledge of the elderly about potential risk factors;

  2. Social measures like developing a culture wherein children voluntarily take the responsibility of looking after their aged parents;

  3. Regulatory mechanisms, which make it obligatory for the members of society to look after their elder parents;

  4. Development of a health insurance scheme to cover their health-care needs;

  5. Development of pension schemes with contribution from employee, employer and government;

  6. Advocating the construction of elderly-friendly houses/roads/staircases;

  7. Promotion of primary prevention to inculcate healthy life-styles in early adulthood;

  8. Information, education and communication strategies toward three broad groups namely elderly persons, the middle aged who would move into elderly age group in the near future and younger people who are the potential care providers for their elderly parents/relatives regarding the issues of hygiene, nutrition, physical exercise, avoidance of tobacco and alcohol, accident prevention measures and awareness about recognition of early signs/symptoms of common geriatric problems;

  9. Training and re-training of medical and paramedical staff to effectively understand the special health needs of the elderly;

  10. Immunization services;

  11. Necessity of periodic health assessment in early detection of conditions;

  12. Provision of prostheses and other medical aids;