Certain preventive steps such as administration of influenza and pneumonia vaccines, not missing BP and diabetes medicine, having regular communication and greetings with elders and timely treatment of dementia can ensure good management of their health.
Dr Vijay Gurjar, Assistant Professor, Department of Geriatric Medicine, Delhi-AIIMS, told DTMT: “Elders above sixty years of age with diabetes, TB and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases should get influenza and pneumonia vaccines. Those who have crossed 75 years of age must get these vaccines. This reduces the risk of getting pneumonia when they are put on ventilators. These medicines can be given at any stage.”
Dr Gurjar said that government should include these vaccines in the immunization program as it can save a lot of money as most of the elders suffering from lungs related diseases are treated on ICUs of private and government hospitals.
Dr Gurjar added that elders having BP, diabetes, COPD or any non-communicable disease should not stop taking medicines. They assume that they are cured and stop taking medicines while many of them stop taking medicines due to affordability factor.
Not taking BP and diabetes medicines can lead to paralysis. This situation can aggravate the diseases. These medicines can be taken from government hospitals and NGOs.
“Loneliness is one of the major problems that elders face. In fact, they should get engaged with social media and start interacting with their old friends. Young generation should also have more interaction with their parents,” said Dr Gurjar.
Dr Gurjar asserted that their first and last phone call, if they are not staying with parents, should be made to the elders to know about their well-being. They should ask about their health or if they have taken food or not. If they are staying with them, this communication should regularly be maintained at home.
The other important thing is forgetfulness. It is not necessary that one starts forgetting things with increasing age. In fact, he or she should get health check up. At AIIMS-Delhi, one can go to the memory clinic to get memory check up on fourth floor on every Wednesday in Geriatric Medicine Department.
Falling without slipping twice in a year should be taken seriously. Proper ventilation should be ensured in rooms where elders stay so that they can see better and avoid slipping.
“Proper screening of elders is more important. I have seen in my clinic where a 75-year-old elder never checked his BP. But when I checked it, it had reached 215. He had a headache. He was teacher,” said Dr Gurjar.
If above 60 years of age, one should undergo proper health check up. Pain in the eyes, limbs and hands and fast heart beat are some of the symptoms of BP.