Elderly not ageing gracefully
As April 7 would be celebrated as World Health Day on the theme of ageing and health, observations in the study can prove an eye-opener for the city known as pensioner's paradise.More than three in four elderly people suffer from some form of mental health problems and emotional distress. Most often, the distress is owing to loneliness and neglect from family members. These observations have been made in a recent study conducted by community medicine experts at a slum in Pimpri.
The study conducted by Pune doctors, Dr Harshal Pandve and Dr Poonam Deshmukh, has recently been published in the Journal of Indian Academy of Geriatrics.
Researchers carried out the study at a slum in Pimpri interviewing and later conducted clinical examinations of 100 elderly people above 60 years of age, including 38 men and 62 women.
The objective of the study was to ascertain medical and other illnesses, determine pattern of addiction and access to health services in elderly population living in urban slum pocket.
"In medical illnesses, most common was cataract affecting 68% of the study population followed by osteoarthritis (53%). Musculoskeletal problems restricting movements and low visibility made everyday chores difficult. However, most concerning were other medical problems such as mental health problems seen in 78% respondents followed by high percentage of addictions," said Dr Pandve, assistant professor, Shrimati Kashibai Navale Medical College.
"Loneliness, death of spouse, lack of concern from family members, financial dependence on children were most common reasons listed by elderly as reasons for psychological problems. While most respondents expressed sense of hopelessness, 40% of respondents complained of insomnia i.e. lack of sleep which could also be an indicator of mental health problems," Dr Pandve added.
Most shocking was high level of addictions amongst elderly people. Though alcohol intake and smoking was only reported by men, 42% male respondents were habituated to addictions on a daily basis.
"Tobacco chewing is bigger threat as not just men, women too were addicted to it. About 68% men and 17% women chewed tobacco," said Dr Pandve.
Financial dependency on children, care givers was also high with 58% respondents having no steady source of income or investments and dependent on children.
"Since they were dependent on their children, they accessed subsidised or free medical services. Only 29% visited private practioners, a large majority visited the urban health centre of a hospital or municipal dispensaries," added Dr Pandve.