In the next four decades the demographic structure of the country is expected to shift dramatically from a young to an aging population

The availability of specialised education and training opportunities in geriatrics in India needs to be improved, considering the inadequacy of general healthcare programmes in raising awareness of issues related to healthy aging, said V.P. Rao, Scientific Advisory Counsel, iBRAIN LifeSciences.

Speaking at a seminar on “Healthy aging in the changing world”, here, he said that of the country’s 206 medical colleges, only Madras Medical College has a full-time geriatric MD programme and Indira Gandhi National Open University offers a one-year full-time course. He said that increased availability of specialised education and training opportunities in geriatrics is important.

Mr. Rao said that the number of people aged above 60 is expected to rise up to 140 million by 2021. He added that in the next four decades the demographic structure of the country is expected to shift dramatically from a young to an aging population. However, Mr Rao pointed out that though the number of elderly people in the country is increasing, the healthcare system is not keeping pace with the growth.

He said, “Hospitals have no protocol to treat the elderly and there are very few doctors who specialise in the field of gerontology and geriatrics.”

Srikala Bharath, Professor of Psychiatry, said that 80 per cent of the elderly suffer from chronic diseases. She said that treatment for the elderly needs to be individualised as it differs from person to person.

Dr. Bharath said, “We need to focus on preventing chronic conditions.”

C.N. Manjunath, Director of Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research, M.N. Venkatachaliah, former Chief Justice of India, were present.