CHENNAI: Geriatric care is becoming an increasingly sought after service as the needs of geriatric patients differ from those of patients of other ages. House call visits by doctors come as a godsend for senior citizen patients, saving them from the hassle of going to a clinic.
Tamil Nadu has the second highest percentage of senior citizens (above 60 years) in the country, standing right behind Kerala in the ranking. The state is greying at a rate of 2.2 per cent, according to a study by United Nations Population Fund that was released in 2017.
Tamil Nadu has 11.2 per cent of elderly population while Kerala has 12.3 per cent.
To provide the ageing population in the city with medical care catered to their needs is the Geriatric Housecall programme that aims to help the elderly (70 years and above), those with the restricted mobility (60 years and above) or to help them manage acute medical problems.
“I see about 10 patients a week at their residence,” said Dr PS Sivam, one of the doctors who is part of the initiative. “Most of them are aged between 80-100 years and are immobile. So, these house calls are very beneficial and cost effective for them, too.”
The programme was pioneered by the Senior Citizens Bureau when Dr VS Natarajan was the chairman in 2008. The programme is currently being run through the Dr VS Natarajan Geriatric Foundation and the initiative has helped around 8,000 patients since its inception, Dr Natarajan said.
“We started off with 30 doctors, but now we have close to 60 doctors,” said Dr Natarajan. “We have divided the doctors area wise and have provided their contact details so that patients can get in touch with the doctors directly or through the foundation. Initially, we did not have many doctors in north Chennai, but now we have about five doctors on call there.”
The Foundation offers a number of other services too. “Apart from medical services, we also provide life certificates to pensioners. These certificates are required as proof for them to receive their pension. We also give the elderly disability certificates and provides families with death certificates, which can become quite a tedious process for family members,” he explained.