The travails of old age

The travails of old age

Saying "Yesterday' s seventy is today's fifty or sixty " Dr. Sridhar Vaitheeswaran brought a lot of cheer to the elders attending a program organised by UDHAVI, an NGO focussing on elder care, and catering to the primary needs of the senior citizens.. Dr. Sridhar is trained in Old Age Psychiatry in Scotland, a specialist in Urban Mental Health Needs and currently Head of the Department of Dementia care in SCARF.

Dr. Sridhar during his talk at Hotel Keys Kattima said that longer life expectancy and nuclear family norms, brings in its own challenges - the old have to look after themselves without much family support. Alzheimers, Parkinson, Dementia, Depression, and mainly loneliness and isolation are becoming increasingly evident coupled with the financial aspect.

The number of senior citizens in India alone is expected to be over three hundred and forty million by the year 2050. A certain amount of slowing down and loss of memory is inevitable with ageing but that should not come in the way of leading a normal life. Dr. Sridhar said that now we have medication for many of these illnesses and with early intervention they can be arrested before they get worse.

Dr. Sridhar emphasised the need for appropriate exercise and keeping the brain active, by learning new skills,which enables one to age gracefully. There is no need for despair or feeling that you are in the brink of impending calamity.

"Loneliness is a major challenge for the elderly," said Sabita Radhakrishna, Founder Chairperson of UDHAVI. She said it was rewarding to see the change UDHAVI has been able to bring in the lives of those elders with whom they have interacted. "Our volunteers and I look forward to more elders taking help from us" she said. “We are there to look into needs and stave off loneliness.”

The elders present had an interesting inter-active session at the end of the program when they were able to voice their concerns and anxieties. Their queries were answered by the doctor.