GROWING NUMBERS OF OLD THAT NEED HOME CARE BY SHANTONU SEN
World Health Organization( W H O has rung the alarm bell . The world’s ageing population will, by 2020, present herculean challenges , specially in the poorer countries. By the end of the second decade of the 21st Century there will be more people aged more than 60 years old than children below 5 years old. Thirty years later W H O expects the world population of people over 60 years to reach the astronomical figure of 2 billion. It also suggests that 80% of them will be living in the middle income and poor countries.
India is a country which needs to heed the warning because it has done nothing in the field of social care of the old. We will have the old and we will have the sick and the terminal among them. The sick among the old will be variously afflicted. The sick among the over sixty will be sizeable. There will be those suffering long term illness such as cancer, respiratory disease, arthritis, neurological disorders and dementia. In an research paper carried by the Indian Journal of Community Medicine in October 2008 Gopal K Ingle and Anita Nath the figure of 324 million was the figure of people needing attention from practitioners of geriatric medicine in the year 2050 in India. We will be an “ ageing nation” then as 7.7% pf our population will be over the age of sixty, among them substantial numbers suffering long term illness.
Indian health managers , the authors state, have to a very large extent stabilized the population, controlled maternal and child health and taken care of diseases. With W H O pointing to the need of caring for the aged our policy makers and managers must now take initiative in this direction. We must highlight the medical and socio economic problems that the aged already face and will face in a much larger measure in the future . The authors concluded strategies must be evolved to explore how the quality of life of the aged can be improved. This was their well researched conclusion in 2008.
The private sector has seen market possibilities . Since 2013 Health Care facilities at home for the aged and others victims of long term diseases who are mostly the aged have come up. Among the care it advertises are two Care of Elderly and End of Life Care. The cost . The minimum charge is Rs 1000 per visit which may just last 45 minutes. The rich and the very rich are availing their facilities. They are not available to 95% of the aged not only because their services are prohibitive also because they are located in the urban areas and the bulk of India’s elderly are in our rural areas. At least Day Care like a crèche for the elderly ,mostly rural based need to come up. Our Prime Minister could ponder over the issues of Care of the Aged in his “Man Ki Baat”