Guwahati, March 4, 2015: Inadequate awareness and attention to health problems of the elderly in Assam has led to a situation where the state lags almost 40 years behind the national average in terms of population of people aged over 60 years! The fact that the elderly need three times as much medical care as those aged below 60 years is another factor that has contributed to the reality assuming such alarming dimensions. This was revealed by the study on ‘State of Elderly Health’, unveiled today by Guwahati-based multi-specialty hospital chain, GNRC Hospitals. The study was prepared by compiling and analyzing data from records of over 12 years maintained by GNRC and various other publicly available sources.
According to the study, the percentage of population above the age of 60 years in Assam stood at 5.9%, according to the Census of India 2011. In comparison, the national average for the percentage of population above 60 years of age stood at 6% as far back as 1971! Statistics available from the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare pegs the national figure at 8% in 2011, demonstrating how Assam has lagged behind significantly.
Stroke and other neurological conditions affected 12,392 people in Guwahati and 4,18,015 people in Assam, the study reported. While 38,653 elderly people in Guwahati and 13,03,900 in Assam are estimated to suffer from hypertension and other cardiac conditions; 35,526 elderly people in Guwahati and 11,98,438 in Assam are estimated to suffer from musculoskeletal, arthritis & locomotion disorders; 14,779 elderly people in Guwahati and 4,98,550 in Assam are estimated to suffer from Chronic Kidney Disease. The figures for diabetes stood at 9,891 and 3,33,645 respectively, while the figure for cancer stood at 8,536 and 2,87,625 respectively.
Unveiling the study, GNRC Limited Chairman-cum-Managing Director and eminent neurologist Dr. Nomal Chandra Borah said: “The situation is even more distressing if we take note of the fact that life expectancy in India as a whole has increased by five years in the period between 2001-2005 and 2011-2015, primarily due to better healthcare. In Assam, this is not the reality and the society as a whole, healthcare service providers and all other stakeholders must accept responsibility for the same. The elderly population has a vital function to play in society. Their experience and maturity serves as the necessary balancing factor for the youthful enthusiasm of the young, and helps maintain a peaceful society that all of us seek to live in.” He added: “As conscionable members of society, we at GNRC believe it is our responsibility to relentlessly endeavour to progress in the direction of ‘Health for All, Smiles for All’, the guiding principle of GNRC. The good news, as far as the conditions that most elderly people suffer from, as our study demonstrates, is that these are preventable, beatable and treatable. Hence, we are introducing a healthcare package that enables the elderly to prevent, detect and fight back against the conditions that adversely affect their health.”
Requesting the media to support the mission, Dr. Borah stated, “The primary cause of lack of treatment or inadequate attention to prevention was lack of awareness. Today, early intervention through modern medicine and proper lifestyle management can prevent or address the overwhelming majority of cases of diabetes, hypertension, stroke, musculoskeletal disorders, chronic kidney diseases and cancer. Yet, they happen and result in death or crippling of many members of society – who would otherwise be healthy individuals. This is simply because of the ignorance, which the media can help us dispel.”