During old age, after a life full of familial, professional and social activities, most elders find themselves at a loss of not having anything to do, nowhere to go to and no colleagues or friends to talk to. This loss makes the person sedentary thereby making him/ her more prone to physical and/or mental illnesses of old age.
The concept of Active Ageing helps in overcoming this situation of the elderly. WHO defines active ageing as the process of optimizing opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age. It further explains the word “active” as continued participation in social, economic, cultural, spiritual and civic affairs, not just the ability to be physically active or to participate in the labor force. Older people who retire from work, ill or live with disabilities can remain active contributors to their families, peers, communities and nations.
Active ageing centres aim at bringing elders together and enhancing their quality of life as they age. These centres foster physical, mental, social and spiritual health among the elderly through their various programs.
Day Care Centre:
With the rising life expectancy, more and more elderly need assistance with their daily activities. Day care centres are primarily for elders who live alone at home during the day and who can no longer manage independently. They offer planned programs of meaningful activities which is a far better option over sitting idle at home. The centres provide opportunities for elders to participate in social interactions and fun activities in a safe environment.
Along with giving the elders a chance to get out of their houses, day care centres also give caregivers and family members a time off from their caregiving tasks. At the end of the day, the elders return to their homes and families, giving them a sense of belonging and of being loved.
The services provided in a day care centre generally include snacks and meals during the day, personal care support, monitoring and administration of medication, assistance in performing activities of daily living and social activities.
Often in later stages of dementia, it’s too difficult for family members to take care of their loved ones within the home setting. This is because they need more specialized and trained care from professionals or because of lack of resources within the home.
Dementia care centres are designed to meet the specific needs of persons with dementia. They provide a conducive and supportive environment where persons with dementia are given the necessary care, attention and security. Studies have found that people with dementia do really well in the company of others with the same condition – dementia care centres facilitate this interaction among persons with dementia.
- Residential Care:
When it becomes difficult to care for a dementia patient, a good residential care home can be a viable option. Different types of facilities provide different levels of care, depending on the person’s needs. It is a good idea to visit a facility and see if your loved ones would feel comfortable. Most of the care centers are well equipped with trained caregivers who can handle elders suffering from dementia.
It is important to choose the one which serves best to the needs of the patient. Be clear about the particular special care needs of the person with dementia before beginning the process of selecting a residential setting. Give special attention to safety and security aspects. A calm and pleasant setting contributes positively for people with dementia.
- Dementia Day Care:
Moving a loved one to an Institutional (or residential) care facility is a hard choice to make. However, being a full-time caregiver can also be tough. Dementia day care centres are facilities that help family members by taking care of the person with dementia during the day. Here, they are provided with a stimulating social environment through music and exercise programs. Although persons with dementia may initially resist going to a day care centre, over time, they start looking forward to the visiting the centre.
Among the several problems of the elderly, financial problems occupy an important position. With fewer income generating activities post-retirement, nearly half of the elderly are fully dependent on their children or other family members for their financial needs, while another 20 percent are partially so. Additionally, in a country like India, the resources to provide financial security to elderly are limited. The elderly are often left with the responsibility of taking care of their costs of daily living and other medical costs.
To overcome this financial burden faced by the elderly, organizations assist elderly in seeking re-employment or self-employment. Training on income generating activities and basic computers is also provided in some cases.
Inactivity is described as a “silent killer”. It is evident that sedentary behaviour, such as sitting or lying down for long periods, is bad for health. Common examples of sedentary behaviour include watching TV, using a computer, using the car for short journeys and sitting down to read, talk or listen to music – and such behaviour is thought to increase as a person ages. As such, an active lifestyle in the form of fitness programs is important.
Elders can benefit from regular fitness programs which are generally, not very strenuous. Fitness programs can reduce the risk of major illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and lower the risk of early death. Staying fit is not only good for the body; it’s also good for the mind, mood, and memory. Researches show that being fit and active can boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy, as well as reduce the risk of stress, depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Whether you are generally healthy or are managing an illness, there are plenty of ways to get more active, improve confidence, and boost your fitness.
Everybody deserves a break from time to time and caregivers and elderly should be no exception. Holiday care facilities provide this much needed break in either of the following ways:
- Holiday care for the elderly: Here, the facility gives the elderly the luxury of having specialized care and holiday together. The elderly who wishes to go on a holiday but requires certain individual attention and care can enroll in the facility. The needs of the elderly are taken care off by the trained personnel while the elderly enjoys the break or vacation.
- Respite for care givers: This service enables caregivers and family members to go out of town for work or on planned vacations without having to worry about their elderly. The holiday care facility with their professional staff support the wellness needs of the elderly, in the absence of the loved one. Respite care may be for a few days to weeks or even longer durations.
Most elderly prefer to stay at home as that is the place they are familiar and comfortable with. Going by this underlying thought, several organsiations have come up with the concept of home care services. As the name implies, home care is a term that includes medical and other services that are given to an elderly person that either needs partial or full care. It makes it possible for an elderly person to remain at home instead of going to a hospital or other institutional care setting.
Home care services is best suited for persons with mobility issues, for those who are frail – making them more prone to falls and accidents and for those who are dealing with the medical conditions like stroke and dementia. Services offered under home care include medical care, medication administration and monitoring, personal care and mobility management.
Although death is an inevitable part of life, the thought of dying still frightens many people. During the often difficult last stages of a serious illness, many people feel that they have lost control over their lives.
Hospice care is end of life care and is for people with serious illness. In a hospice care facility, the primary focus is to help people live each day as good as it can be, to keep them comfortable and improve their quality of life.
Hospice care provides medical services, emotional support, comfort care for pain and symptom management and spiritual resources for people who are in the last stages of a serious illness, such as cancer or heart failure. Apart from supporting family members and carers to managing the practical details of caring for a dying loved one, hospice care also help them in managing the practical details.
Reaching an old age is no longer an exception. However, even today, the elderly tend to have a higher prevalence of chronic diseases, physical disabilities, mental illness and other co-morbidities. The health needs and health related problems of the elderly are different from those of young adults.
Medical care facilities fulfill these special needs and requirements that are unique to senior citizens. The medical care team will include a geriatrician and other skilled and trained professionals who can provide emergency and general medical services to the elderly.
Elderly patients are not just ‘old adults’, they have age-specific needs that require competent, sensitive and respectful quality care. Many elders present themselves with multiple co-morbid conditions which may not be easy for a family caregiver to manage.
Nursing care facilities provide services by professionally trained nurses. The services offered are observation during periods of acute or unstable illness, administration of medication and intravenous fluids, enteral feeding, bowel and bladder retraining, changing of dressings and assistance in personal care.
Old Age Homes:
In an ideal society, everyone would keep their elderly at home with them. However, with the changing family systems from joint families to nuclear families and movement of people from native lands to foreign places in pursuit of jobs, it becomes a challenge to have an elderly at home. The elderly may be fit enough to take care of themselves but might need assistance with some of their daily chores – this makes it difficult for them to live by themselves. Moreover, elderly living alone in their houses become prone to several physical and mental conditions.
While most people look down upon old age homes as awful, they might actually serve as a second home for the elderly. These homes offer safety, security and care. Also, the elderly find companionship with the other members in the old age home instead of being alone. The physical, medical, emotional and social needs of the elderly are taken care of, making the sunset years meaningful and enjoyable.
Physical changes are part of the natural ageing process. These changes include reduced bone density, reduced muscle strength, increased body fat, poor coordination and stiff joints; and can affect the elder’s mobility and balance, making them more likely to fall.
Physiotherapy for the elderly can make day to day activities much easier. It helps in the simply daily activities like walking, climbing stairs, sitting down and getting up. It is also helpful for an elderly who is just recovering from a fall or an operation.
The ailments that physiotherapy can help with are back/ neck pain, sports injuries, arthritis, heart disease, breathing problems caused by asthma or COPD, diabetes related problems, repetitive strain injury (RSI), problems affecting the nervous system – Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Our elderly make important contributions to the society in the different roles they play as family members, volunteers and as members of the workforce. While most have good mental health even as they age, many elderly are at a risk of developing mental and/or neurological disorders or substance use problems as well as other physical conditions. Presently, mental health problems are unidentified or under-identified by older people and their caregivers, and the stigma surrounding mental illness makes people hesitant to seek help.
Elders suffering from mental disorders suffer because of poorer quality of life, inability to live independently and higher rates of disability. Geriatric Psychiatrists offer special help to elders in managing and coping with these disorders. They understand the normal and psychological aspects of ageing and the psychiatric effects of physical illnesses; and focus on prevention, evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of mental and emotional disorders in the elderly and improvement of psychiatric care for healthy and ill elderly patients.
A retirement home is a multi-residence housing facility intended for senior citizens. Typically, each person or couple in the home has an apartment-style room or suite of rooms. Additional facilities are provided within the building. This can include facilities for meals, gatherings, recreation activities, and some form of health or hospice care. A place in a retirement home can be paid for on a rental basis, like an apartment, or can be bought.
Increased opportunities for socializing is one of the common reasons for moving in to a retirement home. Additionally, they provide independence, safety, security and better access to nutritional food and other essential amenities.
According to experts, senior adults who are active and engaged socially often extend their lives and their enjoyment of life by years. However, because of factors such as health conditions, mobility limitations or a lack of energy can keep elderly from being as socially active as they were in their previous years. A diminishing social life might also happen gradually as family members grow busy and close friends experience the same conditions.
Elders who involve themselves in social activities experience an overall better quality of life than those who are isolated. There is an improved mental and physical health leading to an enhanced sense of wellbeing, better self-esteem and confidence, increased cognitive functioning, feeling of belonging and purposeful living.
Social activities facilitated by organizations range from clubs to outdoor events to recreational activities.