Thursday, December 16, 2010

Old is Gold - Mental illness among elders

Please read my comments on this story at the end

Old is Gold
Sheveta Bhatia
Posted: Nov 17, 2010 at 0130 hrs IST

Chandigarh While aging is a natural process, what is not are the
mental disorders associated with it," says Prof NK Chadha from Delhi
University, as he takes seat at the international conference on
Enhancing Human Potential: Bio-psychosocial Perspectives at Golden
Jubilee Hall and talks about ways these can be prevented. "For
starters, we need to be careful that we give elders respect, care and
a healthy social-setup. But above that it is of vital importance that
we keep them productively engaged," says Prof Chadha, who tells us
that of the total Indian population that is above 60 years of age, 11
per cent suffer from mental problems like depression, loneliness and
alienation. "This, because they have nothing to do," he says that
percentage of people suffering from mental problems increases to 38
per cent as they reach 80 years of age and above.

Prof Chadha attributes most of these ailments to the fact that we in
India have still not recognized the potential of the aged. "They are
experienced, learned and have more patience. It's been proven via a
model in Delhi that when they get to teaching the slow learners in
school, not only do they get an outlet out of their loneliness but the
students too benefit," he says that also of great help was the model
of Community Supper. "Here, elders of a community get together once in
six months and serve dinner to the young. The act serves dual purpose
¿ it makes the elderly feel competent and enhances the bond between
the two generations," Prof Chadha also talks about the third model,
where in the elders serve at local dispensaries. "While all the acts
were done charitably, the result was that the medical bills of those
of elders who were spending Rs 700 to 1000 a month reduced to Rs 200."

Along with productive engagement, joint family system too has great
benefit on the health of the elders. "While we have noticed that four
per cent of the elders who stay in nuclear families suffer from
dementia, the instance goes down to .3 per cent in joint family
setup," he reels. But here he's quick to add that for those not living
in joint family set-up, it's not just youngsters to blame. "For about
41 per cent elders do not want to move away from their home town. Even
if it means being able to live with their sons or grandchildren," he
signs off.

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My Comments: I like this article because it give some interesting statistics
(alarming, I dare say) on mental illness among senior citizens in
india; effect of joint family system on the incidence of depression, need for productive or active ageing  etc Especially when Prof Chadha says being active can actually bring down
medical expenses,  I am floored. Not difficult to believe, anyway.

Dr P Vyasamoorthy, 30 Gruhalakshmi Colony Secunderabad 500015 Ph
040-27846631 / 9490804278.
My blog:

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