The problem of ageing is just not physical; in the Indian context, for elderly citizens, it is a social and psychological problem too. The current generation is primarily focused on staying in nuclear families without parents and grandparents. On top of this, the pressure at work or their busy schedule makes them unintentionally ignore the health of their elderly family members. This makes home care for the elderly in India quite challenging
Many elderly citizens in our society tend to feel like a social burden for the new generation. This affects their mental health. Depression is also common amongst elderly citizens as they are physically inactive due to low mobility as well being alone without any support. This creates a hostile environment. These are some contributing factors of roadblock for senior care in India.
Let us look at the challenges that are faced in the home care of elderly citizens in India
Everyday Problems Faced By Elderly Citizens
Even with the financial security and social support, there are small everyday challenges faced by elderly citizens which causes stress and affects their dignity of living. Every day, elderly citizens have to cope with the loss of cognitive and physical agility. Their motor skills also reduce with time. It surmounts daily obstacles in the lives of elderly citizens in our society.
Let us understand a few of these everyday problems faced by the elderly citizens :
With age, cognitive functions also get affected. Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is a common cognitive challenge faced by nearly 5 million elderly citizens worldwide. This is a natural process, but it becomes a burden for many family members to engage in senior care. Communicating with elderly citizens, who experience dementia, becomes quite an arduous task for the family members.
Elderly citizens have lower motor skills. It affects their bladder control. Bedwetting is very common amongst elderly citizens. Family members or domestic helpers are reluctant to clean their beds or throw away their diapers. It hurts their dignity.
Elderly citizens lose their appetite. They eat less or have minimum digestive power. Their eating patterns also fluctuate. This hampers their nutritional needs. With dementia, elderly people often forget to eat. Senior care involves close monitoring of nutrition and making special meals. This can be a difficult chore for the family members.
4.Challenge in performing daily tasks
The daily routine for many elderly citizens in our society can be monotonous. The lack of companionship and support from the family members demoralises them further to break the mundane habit. Lowered mobility alienates them further from pursuing their interests or taking part in social activities.
Many elderly citizens are self-sufficient to take care of themselves financially and socially. They are proactive and do not let age alter their positive attitude towards life. However, it gets deterred due to a lack of resources that enable them to be active.
Elderly people have low mobility and poor vision; hence, it is not suitable to drive. Public transport or public spaces are not friendly for people with low mobility. Even on buses or at a departmental store, they have to climb stairs. It becomes physically challenging for them if they have health issues. It becomes a discouraging factor for them to get out of their homes.
6.Access to healthcare services for elderly citizens
Accessible and efficient geriatric care is a big concern for elderly citizens. In India, elderly caregivers are not proficient in carrying out their duties. Often they are locally resourced by the families or outsourced by agencies. Even the curriculum for medical students is limited in term of geriatric care. If at all, it is only taught to nursing students.
Geriatric care is a highly neglected arena.
7.Absence of proper care provisions
Elderly care is also specialised according to the needs and the requirement. However, in our society, we do not have specialised caregiving provisions. The special care requirements strain family members to carry out the duties and juggle with other responsibilities. Even if caregivers are recruited, they are un-equipped to provide emotional support. We have very few caregivers and nurses who specialise in caring for dementia patients or paralysed senior citizens. Senior care in India requires proper and expertised patient caretakers.
8.Lack of medical infrastructure
Medical curriculums have ignored geriatric care for doctors. Indirectly it has affected the medical infrastructure across India. There are a handful of geriatric care facilities in India. Very few hospitals and clinics have planks or escalators for elderly citizens. There are a few specialised doctors, patient caretakers and nutritionists who tend to the chronic illnesses and needs.
Caring for the elderly – How to go about it
Elderly people need companionship and the need to live a dignified life irrespective of age. Family members should not treat them as a burden rather than coming together to provide alternatives to provide emotional and medical support to their elderly parents. Home care for the elderly in India is not only the responsibility of individuals and households but a collective responsibility of the government to introduce subsidies for elderly care. Here are a few ways caring for the home care for elderly in India can become efficient in every society and households[Text Wrapping Break]
Government should administer old-age pension schemes with higher remuneration for elderly citizens who are dependant monetarily on their family members
2.Private Sector Responsibility
Insurance firms and corporate firms should introduce health insurance at a lower premium rate to make sure that elderly citizens can afford medical facilities
3.Medical and public infrastructure
There should be adequate geriatric care facilities in India with well-equipped professionals who can provide senior care. Medical schools should not restrict geriatric care studies to only nursing students; doctors and nutritionists should also be taught about caregiving for elderly citizens. Public spaces should have wheelchairs without charges for elderly citizens. Parks and stores should have lifts and planks instead of stairs.
4.Being sensitive to the needs
Family members and patient caretakers should also take the onus of providing care to elderly parents. They should understand the challenges of old age and be empathetic towards it. Involving the elderly members of the family for discussions or sitting with them during lunch, or motivating them to be proactive can be helpful in uplifting their lives and creating a healthy environment for them
If parents can compromise for the well-being of their children; they can also make adjustments when their parents grow older. Family members need to adapt to these changes. If the elderly members of the family develop a disability with old age or have dementia, they should be accommodated to a different routine by the family members and not left in isolation
Anvayaa with its team of proficient caregivers and patient caretakers and health managers is trying to bridge the challenges faced in the home care of the elderly in India. It provides holistic and affordable support to the senior citizens so that they can live peacefully and in dignity in their old age.