WHO estimates that there are around 600 million people aged 60 years and over, worldwide. Nearly 10% i.e over 50 million of them are in India. The figure is projected to double over the next ten years. This trend is more acute in developing countries such as India. For multiple and intersecting reasons, government health care and development programs often do not reach the elderly in India. Due to lack of care, respected generations are often humiliated by society and even by their children which results in their isolation. Consequently, the need for veteran or old age homes arises to provide care and support for the elderly. Bangalore alone has over 100 registered Old age homes. The contribution of old age homes in providing the basic amenities and an environment to live a peaceful life is highly significant for the quality of life for elderly populations.
Geriatric Health in India
In India, the elderly people suffer from dual medical problems, i.e., both communicable as well as non–communicable diseases. This is further compounded by impairment of special sensory functions like vision and hearing. A decline in immunity as well as age-related physiologic changes leads to an increased burden of communicable diseases in the elderly. The chronic illnesses usually include hypertension, coronary heart disease, and cancer. The rapid urbanization and societal modernization has brought in its wake a breakdown in family values and the framework of family support, economic insecurity, social isolation, and elderly abuse leading to a host of psychological illnesses. In addition, widows are prone to face social stigma and ostracism. The socio-economic problems of the elderly are aggravated by factors such as the lack of social security and inadequate facilities for health care, rehabilitation, and recreation. Also, in most of the developing countries, pension and social security is restricted to those who have worked in the public sector or the organized sector of industry. (Ingle et al).
Ensuring good quality geriatric health care services at the primary level would greatly help in improving the rate of utilization of available health services. Health care services should be based on the “felt needs” of the elderly population.
The ElderCare project is an innovative concept of AarogyaSeva which addresses comprehensive health and healthcare and helps improve quality of life for the elderly. The project includes engagement with a variety of stakeholders as well as medical and non-medical volunteers, each with their own critical role: