They are mostly laid up with communicable diseases

The major reasons for hospitalisation of the elderly are communicable diseases such as typhoid, malaria and fever, says the report on the ‘Status of the Elderly in Select States of India, 2011’. Hypertension and heart diseases are the other major causes.

The report was coordinated by the Population Research Centre at the Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bangalore, and the Institute of Economic Growth, New Delhi, in collaboration with the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. T.S. Shyamala, one of the researchers involved in the project, said around 10 per cent of the 10,000 or so senior citizens interviewed said they were hospitalised at least once in 365 days prior to the survey date. The data has been collected from the elderly across Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.

It indicates that a large percentage of average expenditure on hospitalisation was on medicines. A large sum is also being spent on food, diagnosis and transportation during hospitalisation.

The elderly, on an average, spend around Rs.6,492 a year in government hospitals. The amount almost doubles in private hospitals, with the average spend at Rs. 15,509 a year. More than half of those interviewed go to private hospitals, while only 0.6 per cent go to AYUSH hospitals or clinics. While the hospitalisation rate in rural areas stands at 10.2 per cent, in the urban area, it stands at 8.6 per cent.

K.S. James, professor and head of the Population Research Centre, said: “As life expectancy goes up, there will be a greater demand for hospitalisation among the elderly. The government should evolve better geriatric services for them. They borrow money to meet their health expenses too.”

More In: Bangalore