The elderly people remain the most vulnerable persons during the present pandemic. If they contract a virus, their survival becomes the lowest.
A latest survey showed that many suffer cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, diabetes and difficulty in performing daily functions.
Traditional support systems have weakened over the years due to fewer children in each family, increased employment opportunities for women, and the rise of nuclear families.
Also keeping the elderly to self-isolate remains the most effective COVID-19 prevention strategies. It is perhaps the reason why the administration time and again, through various advisories, asked the older people to avoid crowded places as well as visiting the religious places. However, it is not just the direct effects of the covid-19 that increases mortality and morbidity among them.
Also what unraveled during the last two phases of covid-19, they suffer from neglect which among others includes lack of care from other ailments and loneliness. The pandemic has highlighted humanity’s dilemma of what to do with older people.
Beyond doubt, the travel restrictions and social distancing measures have had a bad effect on their lives including access to healthcare. The infections lead many elderly people to miss out on treatment as medical check-ups become infrequent.
There are many healthcare schemes like the Ayushman Bharat Yojana which can be tweaked to incorporate special provisions for the elderly. Tele-health and mobile home-based health care check-ups should be ensured to them in advance in case of any emergency such as 3rd wave. Such measures are essential to the right of a dignified life.
The lower rates of literacy rate among this segment of people also limit their access to important information as well as technology. Isolation could be a way forward against the virus but its implications are manifold including mental ill-health problems amongst the aged.
The elderly are valuable assets for the family, more so when they are active and feel valued. There is a need to keep them engaged as they have an invaluable role to play in our collective future. The elderly want to add more life to their years, not more years to their life. The covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the tension between keeping old people safe and keeping them well.
The government should also come up with a comprehensive preventive package, which provides awareness regarding common geriatric problems with a focus on nutrition, exercise, and the promotion of mental well-being of elderly.