The Bold Voice of J&K

Desire to age with dignity requires elderly care

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    Mahadeep Singh Jamwal 

We believe that the role of limited government should be looking after the needs of veterans, the elderly, children and those institutions that improve the quality of life of struggling families. Blessed is the society that has oldies. It is a universally admitted fact that there are certain set rules of the almighty to pull on the wheel of life. The childhood, young age, and to be old are three dynamics of life circle which cannot be avoided, what it is also a universal desire to reach the third stage of life ‘aged’ in a dignified manner. There is no such thing as ageing gracefully. But it can only be achieved if the elders are properly taken care of.
Elderly care, often referred to as senior care, is specialized care that is designed to meet the needs and requirements of senior citizens at various stages. As such elderly care is a broad term, as it encompasses everything from assisted living and nursing care to adult day care, homecare, and even hospice care. Elderly care emphasises the social and personal requirements of senior citizens who need some assistance with daily activities and health care, but who desire to age with dignity.
Historically, for generations India had a prevailing tradition of the joint family system of undivided family, consisting of two or three generations living together in the same home under one roof. The system prevalent throughout the Indian subcontinent, particularly in India; the family headed by a patriarch, usually the oldest male, who used to make decisions on social and economic matters on behalf of the entire family and exercise authority. The family income used to flow into common pool from which resources were drawn to meet the needs of all. It was a system of complete care of all members of the family irrespective of their age and their contribution into the common pool of the income. There used to be importance of protocol in the family contributing towards discipline and elderly people were matter of pride. With urbanisation and economic development, we witnessed a break up of joint family culture into more nuclear like families. The beauty of Indian culture of the joint family stand shattered now and with the descent of the joint family concept and with more and more seniors remaining active for much longer, preferring to live close to their own family members, lifelong friends and communities, and with more children. But we find that the prevailing system has led to negligence and avoidance of older age people, and they are most sufferers and are facing acute hardships of life in their concluding journey of life. There are two barriers that often prevent communication between the young and their elders. The first is middle-aged forgetfulness of the fact that they themselves are no longer young. The second is youthful ignorance of the fact that the middle aged is still alive
Changing value systems, economic compulsions of the children, neglect and abuse has caused elders to fall through the net of family care. We strike to a question that, what are the options today for the elderly when they reach that stage of becoming dependent? When the elders feel themselves enveloped in silence by their care taker family members, they slip into loneliness, which brings them nearer to their end prior to end. If one realises his duties towards their elders, the ethics called for caring for the elderly is to love hem and keep them active. The best gift for an elder is the love of the younger. They are required to be given a care on following parameters:
1. Ensure health care measures 2.Essential needs delivered at the door. 3. Preparing the home. 4. Addressing emotional needs.
o Watch to the signs of weakness, extra forgetfulness, lack of direction or other unsteadiness.
o Mental health is often overlooked, but it is an important part of caring for an elderly person. Keep an eye out for signs of depression such as lack of interest, listlessness or deep feeling of sadness or anger. This can be most difficult time for elders so make sure to monitor their mental well-being as well as their physical health.
o Many elderly parents want to demonstrate their ability to continue managing their own lives, but the need for sincere companionship still exists.
o Meaningful emotional contact is essential for an aging parent – even simple gestures positively influence their morale.
o Always be respectful to the elderly. Even they have aged and may be losing their health; they are still people with emotions and ideas. Aging is simply a part of natural cycle.
o Find out the area of mutual interest.
o Be prepared for resistance from elderly person. Resistance is the most common challenges people face when caring for the elderly. Elderly people might feel the loss of independence, physical loss or mental loss. This can lead them to feeling frightened, vulnerable, guilty and/or angry and cause resistance in accepting the care.
o We all have to sometime of our life, take care of our elderly parents.
Owing to this phenomenon the governments all over the continent have promulgated many social schemes, exclusively for the older age people to provide an atmosphere and circumstances of living a happy life by the older age people devoid of total dependence on their family members. An international organisation ‘The Global Age Watch’ is keeping a vigil about the welfare schemes launched by the various governments, which contribute to taking care of elderly people and rise in the life expectancy of elders and it release annual index based on survey conducted on 96 countries, with their order of better care and welfare schemes. The Global Age Watch Index ranks countries by how well their older populations are farming. Global Age Watch index for 2015, released speaks of concern of countries caring for the elderly people and Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Canada, Netherland, Iceland, Japan, USA and United Kingdom occupying first ten positions and China at 52, Russia at 65, Bangladesh 67, Nepal at 70, India at 71, Nigeria 86, Iraq 87, Uganda 88, Rwanda 89, Zambia 90, Tanzania 91, Pakistan 92, and Afghanistan 96 occupying last among 96 countries listed. The Global results are depicting that top caring countries for elderly are industrialized nations; Africa is overrepresented at the bottom, with 10 lowest places. All other lowest scorers all share a background of conflict.
The countries doing best in the Index have social and economic policies supporting the older people’s capabilities. And do not rely on families to support their relatives own. India has second highest population of elderly people n the world, projected to rise to 12 per cent of the total population by 2020.
We are an aging population. 80 per cent of our elderly are in rural areas with 40 per cent below poverty line and over 73 per cent illiterate. Scarily, about 90 per cent of them have no official social security (i.e. no PF, gratuity, pension, etc). 73 per cent of deaths among the elderly are related to heart diseases, smoking and cancers. 20% of doctor’s visits, 30% of hospital days and 50% of bedridden days are ascribed to elderly patients.
(To be continued)

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