Dr.K.Vasanth MD (Geriatrics) about some false assumptions of ageing.
1. All elderly people are worn out and senile
No- Most elderly live independent lives and mainly live in their own homes. They are not entirely dependent on their children as elders these days are well informed, well equipped to handle their problems and be independent.
2. Ageing is a new problem
No- There have always been elderly people around; but there are now more. In the past, most people died young as they were denied the opportunity to grow old by famine, war or epidemics. Now in India, most babies can expect to survive into their 70s and in developed countries it is in 80s.
3. Chronic conditions of old age are not treatable
No- The majority of medicine at all ages deals with managing these chronic conditions. The course of these chronic conditions like Parkinson’s disease can be slowed down or modified.
Physiotherapy and occupational therapy significantly improve the quality of life those living with chronic conditions like Parkinson’s disease or stroke.
4. Treating older people is a waste of money
No- By treating older people at right time, we are actually saving on expenditures incurred through further long term care as they tend to become more expensive when the care is neglected at the right time.
5. Natural decline cannot be prevented
No- Healthy ageing can significantly prevent the natural decline by good 10 to 15 years!
Healthy ageing includes a good regular physical activities, a balanced diet, immunization and so on. Adopting these healthy lifestyle in middle age can very much delay the natural decline associated with ageing.
6. The old people are of no use!
No- They are a valuable resource of experience and the much needed wisdom. The elderly are still the back bone of the family structure; imparting good senses into their grandchildren. Time and again their experience comes in handy in making critical family decisions.
7. All old people are depressed and lonely
No- Only 10% of the elderly think they are lonely and the majority 90% do not. In fact the fulfilment and well-being is enjoyed by majority at this age rather than their unsatisfying and frustrated productive years.
8. Older patients always have poor prognosis
No- Survival for 5 years or more after many surgical and cancer treatments is considered a success! They respond excellently to timely intervention; although their recovery time may be long.
9. Government ignores old people
No- Not entirely true. After all, the majority of Parliamentarians are in old age. National Policy for old people, National Programme for Healthcare of Elderly (NPHCE) to name a few are programs implemented entirely for the welfare of ageing population. Government is keen on training enough manpower for taking care of the special needs of the elderly.
10. Old people should restrict themselves physically
No- Recently, a 92 year old lady has completed a full marathon. So What’s stopping you?
Infact restricting oneself to their home can be the start point for their functional decline and so it is important to be active and moving around as always, after all age is just a number!
-Dr.K.Vasanth is a Consultant Geriatrician and the Medical Director of Geri Care, Chennai.
He can be contacted at email@example.com or +91 99444 59444.