Old age problems in India

Dr. Atulya Saurabh
Dr. Atulya Saurabh, Geriatrician & Diabetologist in Bhopal, MP

In this edition of Booster Dose, we talk about the old age problems in India and measures to avoid them. We all know, a stitch in time, saves nine. To tell us more about this, we have Dr. Atulya Saurabh, Geriatrician from Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. MyOPD team talked to Dr. Atulya Saurabh to get his views on this topic.

Team MyOPD: How do we define old age in today’s terms? Is it beyond 50 or 60?

Dr. Atulya Saurabh: WHO and all the other agencies define old age as age beyond 60 years.

Team MyOPD: How did you choose Gerontology as your choice of practice? It is quite a focused area.

Dr. Atulya Saurabh: Indians are living longer now a days. When I started my nursing home, I realised that every fifth of my patients was a senior citizen. They had problems which were specific to their age group. These were quite unique and different from the general problems that I faced in my practice. This prompted me to take up geriatrics so as to be better equipped to solve their problems. Moreover general physicians are hard pressed and have little time to patiently attend to the seniors of our society.

Team MyOPD: Could you please tell us 2 most seen problems in old people in general?

Dr. Atulya Saurabh: On an average an aged person in India suffers from 4 chronic ailments.
Most common are :
a) Hypertension
b) Diabetes
c) COPD in males & Osteoporosis in females
d) Depression
e) Osteoarthritis

Team MyOPD: Can these problems be avoided/delayed? Any ways to deal with them?

Dr. Atulya Saurabh: Yes, by Maintaining a healthy lifestyle from our 30s and continuing to do so even after we are 80. Regular physical activity is the backbone of an active aging.

Team MyOPD: Should there be an annual or semi-annual health check-up or lab tests?

Dr. Atulya Saurabh: Yes, everyone should undertake annual health checkup after 40 years of age.

Team MyOPD: Can you please elaborate on the lab tests as well?

Dr. Atulya Saurabh: A person should undertake complete health checkup two times between 40-45 & 45-50. Thereafter once every 2 years between 50 & 60. Checkup should be done annually thereafter.
Most of the standard labs have health checkup packages for all age groups, especially the senior citizens. One can choose from them.

Ideally the package should cover all the vital organs of our body like – heart, lung, kidneys, etc. The package should at least contain – ECG, X-Ray of chest, X-Ray of both knees and LS spine, hemogram, renal function test, liver function test, fasting and post meal plasma sugars, urine – routine with micro-albumin, lipid profile, thyroid function test if suffering from thyroid problems, HbA1c if known diabetic, vision test by an ophthalmologist, hearing test by an audiologist, dental checkup.

Team MyOPD: Any recommendation to younger generation in taking care of their parents?

Dr. Atulya Saurabh: Just remember, you too shall be in their shoes one day. Your children shall emulate what they observe you doing.

Team MyOPD: Thank you Doctor for your time and guiding us through this topic.

To help us understand the recommendations by Dr. Atulya Saurabh, here is a summarized table 

Age (YRS) Recommendation
40 – 50 Two Health check-ups, once between 40-45 and once between 46-50
50 – 60 Health check-ups, once every two years
60+ Health check-up, once every year

Dr. Atulya Saurabh, interviewed on 27th September 2014.

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