Old Age – a natural aging phase that follows the basic law of nature. Not all among the elderly lot manage to stay fit and healthy. Shaky bones, poor memory, health issues which follow with the old age no longer allows them to take care of themselves. They are in need of constant support and attention. Which begs the question: how much concerned is the society today when it comes to geriatrics or taking care of the(ir) elders?
The materialistic approach of the youth has developed cracks on the thin wall of trust which one has on their own kin today. We often come across cases of elder abuse where the ‘family members’ are mostly the ones to ill treat their parents and send them away to the old age homes. The indifference and neglect towards their heath issues, the spiralling depression which comes with the loneliness amongst the elders are all matters which are usually ignored.
Amidst such a scenario I came across some samaritans who believe in the saying ‘Old is gold’. An initiative started by S. Prithviraj – Old is Gold Store is one such store with all the products custom-made for the elderly in Chennai. An interesting range of products – pill boxes, toilet raiser, anti-slip mats, ‘senior’- friendly phones, inflatable shampoo basin and so on. This video gives a peek into the store and how they deal with the senior citizens.
When asked about the inspiration behind opening the store, the founder of the store, S. Prithviraj said that the suffering of his aging parents made him conceive this thought of opening a store exclusively for elder citizens. Many people have already benefitted from this initiative. They plan to expand further and spread this store across the nation in the near future.
Today when the concept of a family doctor is on the decline, another such initiative – “Geriatric Housecall Program” started in 2008 by the Padmasri Award winner Dr. V.S. Natarajan from the Senior Citizens Bureau has come as a blessing to the senior citizens in Chennai.
The Program facilitates prompt access to the services of general physicians, physiotherapists, psychologists, and nursing aides when the elderly are in urgent need of medical attention. About 35 to 40 doctors, working voluntarily for this program are allotted areas like Anna Nagar, Adyar etc.; two or three doctors per area, based on their clinic and availability so that they can save time and reach out to the patients living in the vicinity. Patients who are bedridden and who are unable to visit the doctor themselves, this program comes to their rescue. Senior citizens of age 60 and above who are prone to pneumonia, fall injuries, dementia, stroke, arthritis, urinary problems etc. are treated and provided medical aid with care and concern.
“The services provided through this program are free, and the patients are satisfied with it. We conduct meetings of the panel doctors every six months and brief them as well as review the functioning of the program. Geriatric emergencies at home, geriatric sexuality, cognitive impairment in the elderly, urinary incontinence are the topics covered in the meetings. We also provide death certificates at nominal prices or no charge at all. Over 5,000 patients have been treated in the span of five years, and the demand is always on the rise.” said Dr. V.S. Natarajan, the founding father of Geriatric centre in Rajiv Gandhi Government Hospital (GH), in Park Town.
“Doctors should voluntarily sign up for this cause as it is difficult to find doctors today who would devote their time for the social cause. People today discriminate the elders as they are several cases of elders being sent to the old age homes. The youth today should take this as a moral responsibility to look after the elderly generation and also the media should help in propagating the awareness about the problems faced by them.” appealed the incumbent Chairman of Senior Citizens Bureau, M. Singaraja.
This heartfelt appeal attracts empathy and educates us in a way to look after our elders with sensitivity and compassion as they are the ones who have looked after us and have backed us when we had to face the world in our growing years; now it’s our turn to support them with respect, courtesy and gratitude.