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India has close to 115 million elderly people with multiple physical, social, psychological and economic problems. By 2050, India is estimated to have 20% of inhabitants as geriatric population.
The geriatric/elderly care has not been on formal agenda of government as well as private healthcare providers, to the extent it deserves. As per statistics, 3.7 million suffer from dementia, and 1.6 million have stroke cases; 1 out of 3 senior citizens suffers from arthritis, hypertension, and 1 out of 4 suffer from depression and 1 in 5 has diabetes.
Considering that healthcare of elderly people cannot be achieved unless we address their total health in a coordinated and structured manner, Double Helical, in alliance with Association of Healthcare Providers (India) and Consortium of Accredited Hospitals, is organizing Health Conclave and National Health Awards on 17th February 2020 in hotel Lalit, New Delhi.
The conclave will incorporate a workshop which will be addressed by government officials, senior doctors, who have rich experience it the domain as well as social activists who would bring out the other side of subject. Finally, the conclave will culminate in conferring of awards to caregivers and institutions, who have significantly contributed to making a difference in the lives of older people.
Keeping in view the significance of the issue, we focus on geriatric care as cover story this time. The problems of the elderly in India were not massive in the past because their numbers were small and they were provided with social protection by their family members. But owing to relatively recent socio-economic changes, ageing of the population is emerging as a problem that requires urgent attention before it becomes critical.
Various health problems adversely affect an individual’s way of life during old age. Arthritis, hypertension, hearing impairment, defective vision, diabetes and varicose veins are among the usual diseases faced by the elderly. These chronic diseases tend to occur more in women and increase with age. Tobacco and alcohol abuse is common among the urban slum dwellers; illiteracy and poverty leads to chronic diseases like tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, dengue fevers etc. Most of the poor old people also suffer from nutritional deficiencies that include iron deficiency, calcium deficiency and vitamin-A deficiency eventually leading to blindness if not treated.
The aged people are often financially bankrupt since their assets, properties and wealth are usually transferred to their children. So, most elderly people do not have an emergency fund available to meet their basic needs leaving them dependent on their children or other family members, resulting often in elderly abuse. For raising awareness regarding this, 15th June every year is commemorated as the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) by the United Nations.
We can significantly enhance efficacy of healthcare to the elderly by judiciously reducing our dependence on symptomatic relief offered by modern medicine with the time-tested wisdom of various harmless drug-free modalities of officially recognized traditional systems of health to reverse the effects of aging and arrest, or even cure various diseases attributable to the process of aging. The National Programme for the Health Care of Elderly (NPHCE) has made seminal contribution to the delivery of promotional, preventive, curative and rehabilitative services to the elderly people so that they can age with security and dignity and continue to participate in the life of the nation with full vigour.
As you are aware, China is in the grip of an outbreak of novel coronavirus (nCoV) and cases have been reported from other countries too. Our special story takes stock of the state of preparedness in India for the control and management of the dreaded infection.
Till now the death toll from the coronavirus epidemic that originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, at the end of 2019 has mounted to more than 700 with more than 3000 people in a serious condition. As for India, three cases of novel coronavirus, with travel history to Wuhan, were reported in Kerala. The patients had tested positive for novel coronavirus and are in isolation in the hospital. They are stable but are being closely monitored. There are many more engaging and thought-provoking stories to savour in this issue. So, happy reading!
Thanks and regards
Amresh K Tiwary,