|LETTER TO EDITOR
|Year : 2020 | Volume
| Issue : 4 | Page : 174-175
Care of older people in the present era in India
Jag Mohan Mathur
Department of Surgery, Medipulse Hospital, Basni, Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India
|Date of Submission||14-Sep-2020|
|Date of Acceptance||06-Oct-2020|
|Date of Web Publication||23-Feb-2021|
Dr. Jag Mohan Mathur
3, Mahaveer Nagar, Residency Road, Near Polytechnic College, Jodhpur - 342 001, Rajasthan
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Mathur JM. Care of older people in the present era in India. J Indian Acad Geriatr 2020;16:174-5
With the rise in average longevity, the elderly population in India has also increased and will continue to do so. The diseases and disabilities, which force older people to need help for daily chores, are even posing their problems because they are mostly of chronic in character and stay with patients till the last breath.
The collapse of the extended family system resulting in smaller families because of one child or two children norm has further complicated the system of care of older family members. The need for decent livelihood takes the young children far away from their native places and parent's homes. Many homes are now left with two pairs of elderly couples, belonging to two successive generations, but no young person (20–40 years of age) and no toddlers or adolescent children (who give enough reasons to grown-up people for staying busy and contended).
Villages have robust open community system where every older man or woman in the village is everybody's uncle or aunt or grandparent on informal terms. They stay in open yards of home and spend time by having a little talk with every passerby. From dawn to dusk, this routine is enough for life to go on. When they fall sick, the care is provided by relatives, neighbor, and casual acquaintance.
In urban areas, the majority of poor still live in small crowded houses. They still prefer to have large families, so more hands are available to add to the family income. Elderly are never left alone.
One percent urban population is of the affluent class. They have housemaids and a good number of servants round the clock working in their homes. The house staff take care of all needs of the elderly. Doctors, nurses, and physiotherapists remain available and are just a phone call away, to attend to old parents or grandparents.
Problem is with the rest of 40% of the middle-class urban population. Professionals, administrators, and politicians will continuously have to find out ways and means to support older people of this segment of society.
Worst affected are those older people who are down with the chronic illness. They need regular medical care, with consultation of various specialists who in turn keep on ordering investigations. The earning members of these elderly love their old parents or grandparents but cannot afford to stay around them physically. They manage to pay to the team of professionals.
Governments have to create special cadres of nurses, technicians, and doctors who can be made responsible for giving medical care to such people. Old age homes are gradually being preferred by some but not all and are still not appreciated by the children due to fear of ostracization by society. The government can create another cadre of health workers on appropriate salaries, who can stay at homes of most needy. Kitchen workers and cleaning staff should also be part of care providers. Children of older people must be made to share the financial burden such as salaries and other benefits, to be paid to the workers. The voluntary organizations have to play a significant role to assist the government in this endeavor. Rejuvenation of old traditions such as “Mohalla” and “good neighbors” is essential. People living in multi-storey building societies are trying to revive the good old traditions.
Looking after the elderly can be undertaken on a commercial basis, also by entrepreneurs and even large corporates with incentives of tax exemptions and other subsidies from the government.
Most important is to design a space in homes, during the construction time itself, for any event in the family which would require care of the elderly who may have to stay in bed for several days. The doors of these earmarked rooms should be wide enough for a bed to be wheeled in and out of the room. The windows should be there to allow sunlight (having ultraviolet rays). Such places should have enough space to house oxygen cylinders, suction machine and an intravenous drip stand, infusion pump, and monitors. Provisions for comfortable space for nursing and service staff should also be kept. All this may sound weird, but it is inevitable. People will have to design houses not only for dining, kitchen, bedroom, car parking, and worshipping but also for the care of elderly and seriously sick dearest family members. Finally, the houses should have same floor level throughout for ease of movements by a disabled family member and also for wheeling in and out various equipment.
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Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.