Due to numerous scientific advancements in recent times, it is critical to have effective communication between doctors and patients, in order to eliminate any preconceived notions about healthcare.
To offer such compliance and overall satisfaction amongst people, while also raising awareness on certain vital issues such as chronic diseases involving dementia and strokes, and physical disabilities caused by falls and accidents, Seniority invited two esteemed doctors from Jehangir Hospital, Pune to talk about ‘Ageing with Independence’. Ms. Farzana Mulla, an MA, MSC from UK talks about mental health and cognitive psychology with regards to ageing while on the other hand, Dr. Radhika Patel Ph.D. (Geriatrics), presents a holistic view on preventing physical challenges related to ageing. Providing us with food for thought for both, the body and mind, the doctors talk about the lifestyle problems that affect both the physical and mental health and the importance of promoting an active lifestyle regardless of age.
“What is the one common thing amongst all of us?” asks Dr. Radhika Patel to the room filled with senior adults.
According to the recent statistics, the world population will reach to some 9.7 billion by 2050, thereby seeing a fall in the overall growth rate. However, fertility rates worldwide are falling, and persons aged 65 years or over are outnumbering children under the age of five. By 2050, the number of persons aged 65 or over will also exceed the number of adolescents and youth aged 15-24.
The growing life expectancy, lower fertility rates and access to better medical facilities in India mean an increasing share of elderly in the population. In order to take care of this growing population of senior adults, it is important to understand the complexities of physical challenges accompanied by age. While it is easier to maintain an active lifestyle and prevent accidents at a young age, at a certain age it becomes unavoidable to prevent accidents and falls due to the following reasons:
Dr. Patel, in her discussion also talks about various factors that determine the intensity of an injury at an old age. She says “Either you are healthy for a long time and in the few years towards the end you may have a disability, or you may have a few healthy years in your life and suffer from some disability in the long term, all of which depends on how well you have taken care of your lifestyle during the early age”.
There are certain changes in the body that occur due to ageing like:
“There is no typical older person, there are different ways on how people grow old” says Dr. Patel.
It is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle at a young age as it determines the quality of life in the later years. There are certain significant factors that play an important role in determining your health as you grow old. A few of them are listed below:
Depression, bipolar disorder and other mental health problems are one of the leading causes of disability as it makes functioning difficult or sometimes impossible for senior adults.
More than one-third of adults aged 65 and older fall at least once per year according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Falls can result in bone fractures, head traumas, hospitalization, traumatic brain injuries and the increased risk of premature death and fatalities.
Falls can occur due to certain physical issues such as week bones and balance problems while slippery surfaces, rickety stairs and unattended electric cords can also be a major cause of falls.
Here are a few reasons why falls are common in the elderly.
Falls are the no. 1 cause of injuries in seniors, resulting in hip fractures, cuts, and even serious head and brain injuries. While falls are common in senior adults, there are measures that can be taken to prevent falls and accidents. Certain simple ways can make your homes safe for your loved ones, physical activities and proper care can also avoid the risk of accidents.
Below listed are a few ways to prevent falls:
Exercise - “There is nothing that exercise cannot prevent at any age”, says Dr. Patel. Regular exercise can improve physical as well as cognitive health in seniors. Exercising may delay or prevent diseases like diabetes, cancer, stroke, heart disease and osteoporosis. Regular and moderate exercise can alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety while helping maintain independence in the long-term.
Pedder Johnson is a brand known for its senior care products. This grab bar from Pedder Johnson is made from high-quality stainless steel and offers a great deal of support to the user while sitting down or standing up. The dynamic product can be custom-fitted in your bathroom, toilet or any other place, depending on your specific requirements.
Here’s a bathroom accessory that can help avoid accidents and injuries. KosmoCare’s swing-up toilet grab bar is made from superior quality stainless steel and is a heavy-duty rail. Installing the grab bar is fairly simple and can help avert any injuries, slips and falls in the bathroom or toilet. This wall-mounted rail is strong and durable and weighs 2.25 kg.
Anti-slip mat made of PVC has an anti-skid texture which ensures that it does not move during use. It is of good quality which ensures a long functional life. The primary feature of this mat is to safeguard your home or pool area from the dangers of smooth floors and water spills which could lead to potentially devastating accidents. The mat is designed keeping in mind the safety and comfort of the buyer. Durable quality of the mat ensures that there is not a lot of wear and tear even after prolonged use.
Ensure safety and comfort with the Nofall Anti-Slip Socks that can be used when walking, jogging, practicing yoga, pilates or any other form of exercise. Because of the spilt toe feature, the socks can be worn with slippers or shoes, to ensure a strong grip. The socks can be washed multiple times in the machine without having to worry about losing its elasticity or grip. It features rubber dots on the sole, for an improved grip that preventing you form slipping, or accidentally falling when you are walking on any surface or mats.
According to World Health Organization mental and neurological disorders among senior adults account for 6.6% of the total disability (DALYs) for this age group. Approximately 15% of adults aged 60 and over suffer from a mental disorder.
Cognitive psychology is the scientific study of the mind as an information processor. The study talks about processing that goes inside a person’s mind, including perception, attention, language, memory, thinking, and consciousness.
Ms. Farzana Mulla in her discussion talks about cognitive health in senior adults and how different perspectives in senior adults can have an impact on their mental health.
A large population of senior citizens in India face the fear of visiting the doctor. Awareness and knowledge to equip people about cognitive health can lower the problems relating to mental health like depression, anxiety and dementia.
In India, more than 4 million people have some form of dementia. Worldwide, at least 44 million people are living with dementia, making the disease a global health crisis that must be addressed.
Dementia mainly affects older people but is not a normal part of ageing. Dementia is a syndrome which is usually chronic or progressive in nature, it includes deterioration in memory, thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday activities. The symptoms of dementia can be one or more including memory failure, diminished ability to remember multiple tasks in mind simultaneously and divide attention between them, problems with language comprehension or expression, trouble understanding spatial orientation etc.
What are the causes dementia?
While a lot of people ask questions on how people suffering from dementia remember the old memories and not the recent ones. Ms. Farzana Mulla says, “Past memories are resilient in dementia, it is the recent memories that are difficult to retain.”
What are the symptoms of Dementia?
“Dementia cannot be diagnosed by just a medical examination; cognitive assessment is very important” says Ms. Farzana Mulla.
Early signs of dementia may include:
The stroke incidence rate in India is much higher than in other developing countries with approximately 1.8 million Indians out of a population of 1.2 billion suffering from a stroke every year, it is the most prevalent cause of chronic adult disability. Stroke is the second most common cause of death after coronary artery diseases globally.
Strokes occur when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or ruptures due to which part of the brain does not receive the blood (and oxygen) it needs, thereby causing the brain cells to die.
How to prevent strokes?
While there are multiple risk factors of mental health problems at every age, older people are more prone to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Stressors such as ongoing loss in capacities and a decline in functional ability such as reduced mobility, chronic pain, frailty or other health problems, for which they require some form of long-term care can be a major cause of mental illnesses. All these stressors can result in isolation, loneliness or psychological distress in older people, for which they may require long-term care.
Apart from significant biological changes associated with ageing, certain transitions including retirement, relocation to more appropriate housing, and the death of friends and partners can also have an impact on the mental health of senior citizens.
According to Ms. Farzana Mulla, “Not being active can cause as much disability as a chronic illness, sometimes even more.”
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