Saturday, September 24, 2011

Care for elderly is need of the hour in Tamilnadu situations-Dr.K.Govindaraju

A senior citizen who is in late eighties taken care by grand grand children
No one can stem the tide of youth, for old age catches up with everyone. It is a global phenomena and one that needs to be addressed. The aspect of elderly care gathers greater significance in the light of the fact that families are becoming nuclear and want to stay that way. Hence this is not only a private concern but also a public one.  Elderly people at home contribute greatly to the family environment enrichening the essence and spirit of existence. After a certain stage however, they cannot contribute actively to the family and tend to think of themselves as redundant. So not only do we have to cater to their physical needs but also to their emotional needs. This requires a lot of patience, immense understanding and the ability to keep cool and level headed at all times. Caring for the elder is always a challenge and the older the person is, the more difficult it becomes. The sense of responsibility increases manifold. Sickness and ailments is something which seems to follow them and inevitably there are crises, which arise suddenly. Elders do not always air their problems for fear of getting hurt, so learning to anticipate and doing things for them before they ask is appreciated greatly. It could be something as simple as giving a parent a hot water bag or massaging aching parts and it could be something a little bit more serious like administering the correct dose of insulin at the correct time for a diabetic patient or rendering timely first aid in the case of an asthmatic attack. Talking to them, cajoling them, and making them feel that they are needed are very important. They need to be humored and their views need to be considered in order to give them a sense of importance. Elderly care can be emotionally trying for both the cared and the caregiver. On the one hand, the caregiver rues the fact that a healthy individual has metamorphosed into a sickly senior and on the other hand the elder parent or individual feels that he is robbed of his sense of independence and is hence emotionally drained. Addressing this problem is not easy, but reassurance has to be given time and time again to reiterate the fact that the senior is not alone in his troubles. Sometimes it may so happen that the elderly person may have to be left alone for sometime or for part of the day. This can be agonizing for both. The caregiver is always on tenterhooks wondering if the aged individual is safe and worrying about strangers entering the house and rendering it unsafe. The senior keeps waiting for the caregiver to return. Loneliness can be very disturbing for them.  The other important factor, which is also very relevant, is how they will fend for themselves during mealtimes. If they can cook, will they turn off the stove and if they just have to eat without having to cook, will they be able to manage to warm the food without causing harm to themselves. If medication needs to be taken before and after eating can they be relied upon to take the correct medications in the correct dosage? The caregiver has got to think, anticipate, and find ways to take care of all this. Balancing safety and needs without compromising too much on independence is a task by itself. If there are other family members to take care, the problem is slightly less and with paid caregivers, the emotional quotient will be missing.  When there were joint families and people were not hard pressed for time, there was always someone to take care of the elderly. Now times have changed. The Indian elderly population is growing rapidly because science and technology has created a revolution in the healthcare system and the health care needs of the elderly Indian has increased. Poverty and illiteracy have exacerbated the problem of elderly care and has rendered them more vulnerable. In rural India, the problem is worse. In such a situation, having to depend on their children to look after them brings a lot of fundamental values and the principles of ethics into play. Morally one is bound to look after one’s parents, but what happens when the children are so poor that they cannot even take care of themselves. They are surrounded by a sense of moral responsibility on one hand and an inability to look after on the other. However, their family members are to render elderly care without allowing the seniors to lose their sense of dignity and independence. Govin

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