CHENNAI: The increased life expectancy that has come with medical advancements is a double edged sword, believes Dr V S Natarajan, a geriatric expert from the city, who is himself 76.
“On the one hand, many elders are able to spend more time with their family, see their grandchildren get married and witness many events. But on the other hand, there are many who have to cope with disability, disease and socioeconomic problems,” he says.
Most old-age care facilities are expensive. Providing affordable healthcare and social security for low income groups is one sector where the government and NGOs can intervene, believes the doctor. “Ageing is not healthy anymore. I see many more cases of dementia, Parkinson’s, stroke, arthritis, depression. Many are susceptible to falls. Their movements are restricted, and they are housebound,” he says.
With social factors like disintegration of the joint family, loneliness, financial insecurity and concerns about safety on the rise, he says, “We need measures like pension schemes, affordable services like cooked food and assistance, and more elderly-care homes, especially in rural areas. We also require an understanding from the younger generation that they would contribute their efforts.”
Dr Natarajan who was one of the country’s earliest geriatric specialists, has been advocating for elder care facilities for decades. Through his ‘Housecall’ project, he coordinates with local doctors in different areas. For more information on housecalls and immunisation, call 04426412030.