Policy & Issues

A helping hand during old age

HEALTH MATTERS: Timely care through services such as the Geriatric House Call programme is the need of the hour, say senior citizens. File Photo: N. Sridharan  

Some elders need more care than others as they grow older.

Even those who manage to remain healthy require social support to move around and remain connected.

In the last few years, several organisations have come forward to offer various facilities for senior citizens, be it their need for healthcare or social networking.

As long as they are mobile, the senior citizens manage to go to neighbourhood doctors but as they grow older and become dependent on family members, their health might get neglected.

A neglected senior citizen's health deteriorates rapidly and without proper support they could end with complications requiring hospitalisation.

But timely care in the patient's house could prevent major medical hassles, says geriatrician V.S. Natarajan.

Reaching out

The aim of the Geriatric House Call programme launched by him in February 2008 was to reach out to elderly patients and provide them treatment at their homes. A family could call the Senior Citizens Bureau for the list of doctors, nurses or paramedics. “From 30 doctors at the time the programme was launched, we now have the support of 60 doctors, over 30 physiotherapists, psychologists, organisations providing geriatric nursing aides and dieticians,” Dr. Natarajan says.

“But there are still underserved areas. We need more doctors to join us. ,” he adds.

There is a large demand for such a service in the city, say experts and senior citizens.

K.V. Sampath, 82, a resident of Royapettah made Chennai his home as his daughter lives here. When the elderly couple needs to visit a doctor, he calls his daughter.

“At present I have no ailment. My wife is 77 years old and we would like physicians to come home. A social network would help immensely,” he says.

Sudha Seshayyan, registrar of the Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR Medical University, who launched the Bureau's booklet providing details of the project and phone numbers of the doctors and other geriatric services on Sunday, says social networking would help the elders maintain their lives in order.

Maintaining records

The elderly, who at a younger age would have managed their medical records meticulously, tend to neglect them as they grow infirm.

The doctors on house call programme have experienced such challenges and are beware that patients may have no knowledge of how far their health has deteriorated.

Physician S.D. Feroze, who practices in George Town says, “I always take my glucometer to check the patient. I listen to the patients, explain to them their condition and then prescribe medicines,” he says.

He has often found that the patient may have taken the medicines regularly but may have neglected his or her diet.

“Nobody in the family would have cared to ensure that the patient had meals on time,” Dr. Feroze says.

Better treatment

Old age home residents receive better medical treatment as they have doctors on call.

The Chennai Corporation, which recently inaugurated an old age home has arranged for health officials to visit the residents regularly.

But there is nothing like being healthy. N. Narayaswami, secretary of Children's Club who will be celebrating his 92nd shortly says “I have my own family doctor, but I have never had to go to a doctor for an ailment.”

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Printable version | Apr 15, 2021 2:03:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/health/policy-and-issues/A-helping-hand-during-old-age/article15443167.ece

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