Health Op-Ed


  • PublishedApril 13, 2018


We will get old one day and it is the prayer of everybody to grow old in good health and vitality.

Medical science that specialises in the medical care and treatment of old people is called Geriatrics while that of infants and children is referred to as Paediatrics.

Elderly care or care of the aged is the fulfillment of the special needs and requirements that are unique to senior citizens. This broad term encompasses such services such as; assisted living, adult day care, long term care, nursing homes, hospice care [for terminally ill patients], and home care.

Elderly care emphasizes the social and personal requirements of senior citizens who need some assistance with daily activities and health care, also for the aged, at is important to note that the design of housing, services, activities, employee training and health care delivery should be truly customer centered.

However, it has been observed that the elderly in the globe consume the most health expenditures out of any other age group as comprehensive observations has shown.

Traditionally, elderly care has been the responsibility of family members and are provided within the extended family home. Increasingly in modern societies, elderly care is now being provided by state or charitable institutions which include private and religious institutions.

The reasons for this change include decreasing family size, the greater life expectancy of elderly people, the geographical dispersion of families, and the tendency for women to be educated and work outside the home.

Organisations or individuals that provide room and board, personal and health care also provide rehabilitation services in a family environment for at least two and no more than six persons.

It is important for caregivers and health workers to ensure that measures are put into place to preserve and promote function rather than contribute to a decline in status in an older adult that has physical limitations.

Caregivers need to be conscious of actions and behaviours that can cause aged adults to become dependent on them and need to allow older patients to maintain as much independence as possible. Providing information to the older patient on why it is important to perform self-care may allow them to see the benefit in performing self-care independently.

If the older adults are able to complete self-care activities on their own, or even if they need supervision, encourage them in their efforts as maintaining independence can provide them with a sense of accomplishment and the ability to maintain independence longer.

One of the problems that may confront people as they grow old is the issue of mobility. For years, these senior citizens have been used to going out in the morning and coming back late in the evening. Now, in their twilight, they have to seat around doing nothing and if they are lucky they have their grandchildren around them to give them some comfort.

Impaired mobility is another major health concern for older adults, affecting 50% of people over 85 and at least a quarter of those over 75. As adults lose the ability to walk, to climb stairs, and to rise from a chair, they become completely disabled. The problem cannot be ignored because it has the tendency to bring on suicidal thoughts.

Therapy designed to improve mobility in elderly patients is usually built around diagnosing and treating specific impairments, such as reduced strength or poor balance. It is appropriate to compare older adults seeking to improve their mobility to athletes seeking to improve their split times.

People in both groups perform best when they measure their progress and work towards specific goals related to strength, aerobic capacity, and other physical qualities. Someone attempting to improve an older adult’s mobility must decide what impairments to focus on, and in many cases, there is little scientific evidence to justify any of the options. Today, many caregivers choose to focus on leg strength and balance.

We cannot however overrule the fact that some seniors are blessed with eternal strength and abundant energy coupled with youthful figure that even in their advanced years, they are still going strong.

The family is one of the most important providers for the elderly. In fact, the majority of caregivers for the elderly are often members of their own family, most often a daughter or a granddaughter. Family and friends can provide a home (i.e. have elderly relatives live with them), help with money and meet social needs by visiting, taking them out on trips and so on.

Many an aged person has died due to neglect on the part of family members and relatives. Apart from providing for them, there is need to show them TLC, Tender! Loving! Care!

Have you ever stopped to wonder why in your youthful days, when you fall, you get up and keep going but as you age, falling now becomes a burden and you take care to avoid a fall.

That is what happens to elders and falling is one phase often associated with aging. One of the major causes of elderly falls is hyponatremia, an electrolyte disturbance when the level of sodium in a person’s serum drops below 135 mEq/L. Hyponatremia is the most common electrolyte disorder encountered in the elderly patient population.

Studies have shown that older patients are more prone to hyponatremia as a result of multiple factors including physiologic changes associated with aging such as decreases in glomerular filtration rate, a tendency for defective sodium conservation, and increased vasopressin activity. Mild hyponatremia ups the risk of fracture in elderly patients because hyponatremia has been shown to cause subtle neurologic impairment that affects gait and attention, similar to that of moderate alcohol intake.

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