Aim of Geriatrics - Caring for Elders
Ageing in India is exponentially increasing due to impressive gains society has made in terms of increased life expectancy. With rise in elderly population, demand for holistic care is in much need. It is projected that proportion of Indians aged 60 and older will rise from 7.5% in 2010 to 11.1% in 2025.
There are multiple health issues associated with ageing known as Geriatric Giants.
Frailty is a major concern associated with physiological decline and marked vulnerability to adverse health outcomes, increased weakness, fatigue and medical complexity (particularly seen with COVID 19 infection where frailty is associated with increased morbidity and mortality)
There are multiple chronic health problems in elderly (diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer), causing two-thirds of deaths each year and are associated with polypharmacy i.e being prescribed multiple medications (and associated side effects of each medication and their interactions).
Deterioration of cognitive health i.e. person’s ability to think, learn and remember is another geriatric giant, most common presentation is Alzheimer’s Dementia.
Depression is common mental disorder often under diagnosed and untreated associated with lot of suffering.
Falls and associated physical injuries is one of the Geriatric Giants as aging causes bones to shrink and muscle to lose strength and flexibility added with increased susceptibility to lose balance, bruising and fracturing a bone.
Anorexia of Aging is associated with loss of appetite and/or reduced food intake and causes increased morbidity and mortality.
Sensory impairment seen with visual and hearing issues are extremely common and easily treatable.
Poor Oral Health like cavities and tooth decay lead to difficulty maintaining a healthy diet and associated with low self-esteem.
Substance abuse especially alcohol and drug abuse are overlooked and cause multiple physical and mental problems in elderly.
Bladder control and constipation affect quality of life and their proper management is very important.
Delirium is acute fluctuating syndrome of altered awareness, attention and cognition especially seen in hospitalized elderly suffering from multiple ailments.
Spontaneous bone fractures are seen especially in elderly who are weak and frail and bed bound.
Successful ageing is a target to achieve amongst multiple and complex health issues in elderly. Planning care of elderly at their home where they are most comfortable is the ideal way for long term care for a successful ageing.