With a rise in elderly population, and a number of them living alone, GERIATRIC HEALTH has become a matter of concern

It’s never easy to leave an elderly parent or relative at home. When work or marriage entails moving to another city, one of the foremost concerns most people have is leaving behind their aged parents or relatives.

With Chennai witnessing a rise in its elderly population — the 2011 census put it at 36.8 lakh — and a significant number of them living alone, geriatric health has become a matter of concern.

This is where a number of home healthcare providers have stepped in. Offering services ranging from companionship and nursing to physiotherapy and visits by a doctor, these are slowly gaining in popularity.

A simple Google search throws up at least half a dozen such services. And it’s not just healthcare for the elderly — help with recovering after a surgery or an illness such as cancer is also offered.

In some cases, even if the children or a spouse lives in the same house, the service is useful if they are busy with work and cannot take care of the aged by themselves.

Anitha Arockiasamy, president, India Home Healthcare, says the firm mostly gets inquiries from daughters or daughters-in-law. The firm provides preventive healthcare packages as well as 24x7 nurses, bi-monthly visits by doctors and visits by dieticians, among others.

“Of the 200 clients we take care of in Chennai on a monthly basis, 60 per cent are senior citizens. However, there is also a growing market of younger couples looking for temporary help and care,” she says.

V.S. Natarajan, widely acknowledged as the father of geriatrics in this part of the world, also launched, some years ago, a highly popular housecall programme, whereby doctors visit the elderly to render medical assistance at home. With lifestyle diseases such as cardiac ailments, diabetes and hypertension on the rise, there is also huge demand for the monitoring and care of such patients, says Ms. Arockiasamy.

Not every woman has a happy start to motherhood. For some, it marks the beginning of postpartum blues.

The post-delivery period can be quite challenging for many mothers. They end up dealing with a range of emotions — happiness, depression and anxiety — and also medical conditions.

Constipation, urinary tract infection and postpartum haemorrhage are among the common problems faced by mothers, say doctors.

T. Srikala Prasad, senior assistant professor, urogynaecology, Government Kasturba Gandhi Hospital for Women and Children, Triplicane, says not every mother faces postpartum problems.

“Constipation is common in the postpartum period. This is because there is a myth that mothers should not take a lot of water. Not drinking adequate water will cause constipation,” she says.

Lack of adequate water could also lead to urinary tract infections, says an obstetrician at a city government maternity hospital. “During puerperium, which is six weeks after delivery, there are chances of infections. We are seeing a rise in the number of mothers with postpartum depression,” she says.

During a later stage, doctors also see mothers with problems of uterus prolapse. Mothers need adequate sleep, water and proper diet comprising green leafy vegetables and fruits, they say.

J.S. Rajkumar, chairman of Lifeline Rigid Hospital, recounts a case wherein a 48-year-old woman complained of chronic constipation for 15 years after childbirth. The pelvic muscles turn weak after childbirth, says Dr. Rajkumar.

“At least 30 to 40 per cent of patients with chronic constipation suffer from obstructed defecation syndrome (ODS). Studies in the U.K. and the U.S. show 78 per cent of persons with ODS are women,” he says.

(Reporting by Zubeda Hamid and Serena Josephine M.)

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