Like A Fine Wine: Taking Care Of Senior Citizens' Health
Old age comes for us all. When parents enter their twilight years, it’s important to look after their day-to-day health and well-being.
Across the world, the number of senior citizens is rising, according to a 2019 UN report. By 2050, the UN projects that 1 in 6 people worldwide will be over 65 years, up from 1 in 11 in 2019.
In 2019, there were 703 million people over the age of 65. That number is expected to double to 1.5 billion by 2050. While developed nations have a higher percentage of senior citizens, India is soon expected to catch up to those numbers.
Considering these evolving population demographics, there is an increased impetus to cater to the healthcare needs of senior citizens everywhere. Let us look at a few things you need to know so that you can better manage the healthcare of your ageing loved ones.
Caring for the elderly
In India, over 10% of its elderly population suffers from depression, and some studies show that it could be as high as 34.4%. The prevalence of depression is higher among elderly women and in rural areas.
Taking care of the senior citizens in your family goes beyond just medications. One also requires social support systems, allied healthcare services and information on dealing with senile health issues for best results.
Here are some ways to manage the health of your elderly family members.
1. Encourage physical activity
The benefits of working out are innumerable. As discussed in our blog on increasing stamina, exercising keeps one young both physically and mentally. However, exercise is not just for the young. Workouts such as yoga, weight training and brisk walking improve cardiovascular health and help the elderly remain fit.
As one gets old, it becomes increasingly difficult to do the same activities and maintain muscle mass. However, walking even a kilometre or two every day keeps your bones well-oiled and maintains your overall joint health.
Invite your older folk to go on walks with you, preferably in the morning. This way, you can ensure that they go out to get that all-essential vitamin D, which is particularly important for them to keep issues like osteoporosis and cardiovascular diseases at bay. The stereotype of old folks walking in a park to get exercise exists for a reason. It keeps them fit and healthy!
2. Encourage social activity
One of the common causes of geriatric depression is the lack of social activity. Senior citizens often find themselves alone at home, without their children and lack of friends’ circle. Also, a lot of senior citizens live by themselves without the support of family or friends.
This results in a cognitive deterioration of health, leading to problems like Alzheimer’s disease and increased stress, anxiety, feelings of unworthiness, and depression.
Activities such as taking a dance class, joining a laughter club, and participating in senior nights at the local community centre can help the elderly to get moving. Encourage your folks to get out and meet new people, or better yet, take them along on your runs if possible, which will brighten their mood.
3. Monitor their diet
As one grows old, the rate of their metabolism reduces. Ageing is a biological phenomenon, and it must be treated accordingly. Diet changes are a big part of managing healthcare among senior citizens as the chances of getting sick are higher.
Ensure that the senior citizens you care for get enough fruits and vegetables. Vitamin E and C have anti-ageing benefits, so seniors must incorporate a diet rich in easy-to-digest food with high nutritional value. Most importantly, make sure that they get enough fibre from their food.
Healthy bones are paramount in old age; thus, getting enough calcium by consuming dairy products, nuts, and green leafy vegetables becomes imperative.
4. Get professional care if necessary
It is not uncommon for many elderly people to live on their own, especially if their children work and live in other cities. In such cases, it is recommended that you hire professional help or arrange for them to live in an aged care facility. The staff at such a facility can be much more suited to provide daily and essential care in a safe and controlled environment.
There’s a variety of options available for government-funded and privately owned facilities for senior citizens. The Central Government has a range of schemes under Central Government Health Services for senior citizens. Organisations such as HelpAge India provide non-profit assistance to elderly citizens all over the country.
List of elder citizen helplines:
Helpage India: 1800-180-18
Mumbai Police ElderLine: 1090
National Elder Helpline: 14567
Dignity Helpline (N.G.O): 1800-267-8780
Old Age Home funded by the Delhi Government: +91-11-26218940
5. Schedule regular health check-ups
Regular health check-ups become particularly important as one grows older and necessary after the age of 60. As most senior citizens are more prone to chronic conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular issues, etc., frequent and regular health checks help you keep a tab on their health status.
This way, you can be ready to intervene in a timely manner in case of any abnormalities or deviations in their everyday routines. Detection of the early onset of cognitive issues, if any, also becomes easier, which facilitates arranging for the necessary care they need.
Worried about the health and welfare of your elderly parents or loved ones? Consider getting them a health plan. Kenko Senior Citizen Plan is structured specifically, keeping their needs in mind. We offer over 50% discounts on all medical bills, medicines, and lab tests to provide the best benefits to the ageing members of your family.