The World Senior Citizens Day is observed on 21st August every year with the intention to acknowledge the contributions of senior citizens of to the society. Further, it intends to make people aware about the condition of elderly and support them while aging. Aging is an unstoppable phenomenon which is also related to numerous health concerns. The global improvement in standard of living has increased longevity and is associated with aging of population. In the year 2011, the estimated number of adults living in India over 60 years of age was about 104 million. This number is expected to increase up to 323 million by 2050, thus constituting approximately 20% of the total Indian population. Furthermore, older people across the globe are estimated by World Health Organization (WHO) to outnumber children under age of 14 years by the year 2050.
With such drastic increase in elderly population, there has been increased burden of geriatric health problems worldwide including India. Therefore, for any nation to prosper in current scenario, wellbeing of its geriatric population is very important. This necessitates proper understanding of their health issues and related needs.
In view of this, WHO in collaboration with the Government of India conducted a cross-sectional survey on elderly population of 60 years and above in 10 different sites of different states and union territories of India. As per this survey, older people are commonly afflicted by diseases such as visual impairment (including uncorrected long sightedness/ reduced near vision), unoperated cataract, uncorrected hearing impairment, urinary problems, obesity, poor nutrition, hypertension, diabetes, ischemic heart disease, dental problems, and depression. Thus, overall morbidity is higher in older population of any country. This highlights the need for preventive health checkup camps for them, with affordable laboratory investigation packages, transport service to labs and hospitals. Furthermore, government and other private/charitable hospitals/organizations should come forward and take initiatives either individually or in collaboration to strengthen the healthcare facilities for senior citizens in the country which may be in form of immunization programs or measures for improving their nutrition or simple health awareness programs for elderly.
Further, it is certain that older people suffer from multiple comorbid conditions which leads to polypharmacy i.e., concurrent use of multiple pills. It is known that polypharmacy negatively affects patient’s adherence to treatment protocol which makes medication schedule irregular. Medication non-adherence basically, is a failure to adopt a prescribed medication regimen adequately. It involves either stopping the intake of prescribed medicines, and/or alterations in their dosage or missing doses in between. This non-adherence adversely affects individual’s health. This results in worsening of health issues and leads to increased medical emergencies and hospitalizations, and thus decreases quality of life.
Apart from polypharmacy, medication non-adherence in elders may be due to physical barriers such as cognitive deficits or diminished physical senses. Low health literacy and low socioeconomic status can also negatively impact individual’s ability to manage the prescribed medicines adequately. Furthermore, medication non-adherence might sometimes be because of more faith of elderly people on traditional medicines and the local doctors than specialists. In view of above mentioned health issues related to elderly people, it is of utmost important that they take good care of their health to lead healthy and quality lives. So, below mentioned are few health tips for them.
Tips to keep yourselves healthy while aging:
- Keep yourself physically active as much as possible by doing regular exercise and walking.
- Remain socially active by meeting friends, relatives or joining some social clubs, yoga clubs etc.
- Eat healthy and balanced diet as per your medical condition. Seek advice from dietician or nutritionist if required.
- Avoid use of tobacco in any form.
- Visit your doctor and get your health checkups done at regular intervals.
- Take your medicines as prescribed. If you tend to forget, set alarms in your phone or watch or ask someone you trust to remind you.
- Join a pharmacy that delivers medicines to you. Your pharmacist can also remind you when your next prescription is due.
Elderly people many times are either completely or partially dependent on their care providers who are usually of comparatively younger generation. Therefore, onus lies on these care givers from younger generation or the youth of nation to take adequate care of older people. So, below mentioned are few tips which can help younger care givers provide adequate care to their elderly to improve their quality of life.
Tips for caregivers for taking care of elderly:
- Keep track of health of dependent elderly and take them to visit their doctor at regular intervals for routine health checkup and other body investigations.
- As elderly people tend to become forgetful and miss their medicines, therefore keep track of their medications and ensure a regular intake of medicines.
- Ensure that the dependent elderly is fed with healthy and nutritious diet as per their health requirements.
- Accompany dependent elderly during morning and evening walks so that they feel refreshed.
- Spend some time with dependent elderly so that they do not feel lonely and depressed.
If it is the responsibility of caregiver to take care of good health of their elderly, it is important for caregivers to keep themselves fit and healthy.
If our elderly become self-reliant and if their caregivers and the society become sensitive to their needs, the elderly can lead a healthy meaningful life. The society can benefit from their experience and the growing geriatric population can be a healthy one.
Turacoz Healthcare Solutions take an initiative to draw attention of youth towards health concerns of elderly people in nation and shares tips to ensure a better quality of life for them. Turacoz is a medical communication company that provides scientific/medical writing support to the industry and academicians.