October 1, 2010

INDIA: Dependent 80-plus citizens neglect health

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MUMBAI, Maharashtra / The Hindustan Times / Mumbai Metro / October 1, 2010

Octogenarians in the city feel most insecure about their dependency on their children. This insecurity stops them from demanding attention from their children, both financial and emotional, thus neglecting their health.

HelpAge India, an organisation for the elderly, conducted a survey of 830 people, who are 80 years and above, across eight cities to understand their needs and health issues.


There are about 8 million (80 lakh) octogenarians in the country.

The survey found that more than 80 per cent of the elderly are dependent on their families, mainly their sons, and more than 50 per cent of those surveyed had poor health.

“Most of the 80-plus population is financially dependent on their children or other relatives. They do not have insurance. This dependency is a limitation in their healthcare treatment,” said Prakash Borgaonkar, co-director of HelpAge India, Mumbai.

The survey also chalked out solutions to make this segment of society more secure.

The survey also suggested free treatment for the 80-plus population below poverty line and regular financial support from the government.

“They face health issues because their immunity is low. They must exercise, maintain a good lifestyle and diet but most neglect these vital points. The dependency factor adds to their poor health. Most of the cases of such population are of strokes, heart attacks and other related problems,” said Dr Shishir Shah, a physician.

During the survey, that was conducted in Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Bhopal, Chennai, Patna and Hyderabad, the elderly were asked about their health issues, facilities that they get and their expectations from their family, society and government.

It was found that most people belonging to this age group do not have access to better treatment and those who can afford it prefer private hospitals.

“Private hospitals have different sections for geriatric treatment and also give personal attention. Public hospitals should start such wards as well. Senior citizens shouldn’t be kept waiting in long queues,” said Borgaonkar.

City surgeon Dr Mustafa Parekh believes that a lack of awareness plagues the elderly.

“Mostly this generation is not aware of the policies. They need someone to escort them to health centres. This is where healthcare vans or centres, set up by NGOs, are useful,” Dr Parekh added.

Copyright © 2010 HT Media Limited.

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