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Loneliness and depression: Twin challenges for elders

Aug 21, 2018

Approximately, 21.9 % elderly population in India suffers from depression.

New Delhi: In the past few years, India has been projected as a young country. A country all set to see the pinnacle of development on the back of its young resources. The recent statement of government in Lok Sabha has pulled the attention of people towards the elderly population. Anupriya Patel, minister of state for health, informed Lok Sabha that elderly population is expected to rise to 340 million by 2050. The numbers are higher than UN projection of 316.8 million and a clear indication that India is greying faster than expected. Advancement of the healthcare education has played in pivotal role in the paradigm shift.

The projections have raised a very important question for the healthcare sector, is it prepared to deliver the quality care to the rapidly growing elderly population? The old age comes with its own set of challenges and elderly depression has presented itself as an emerging healthcare challenge for India. Approximately, 21.9 % elderly population suffers from depression.

Family support system has been the fulcrum of Indian social values for ages. Robust economic growth and societal modernization toward nuclear families disrupted the fulcrum at such a speed that neither the society nor the healthcare system got any time to prepare for it. Additionally, when people have to move out of their ancestral homes in the old age, they lose contact with their friend circles and find it difficult to build the friendships in the new environment. Senior care services have come as a lifeline to the lonely elders as well as to the children who were not able to delegate time to their parents due to career and personal commitments.

Addressing the alarming issue of loneliness and depression among elders, Dr. GS Grewal, Senior Consultant, Max Hospital, commented, “Evidence is pointing towards a rise in incidence of depression in the general population; loneliness in the elderly becomes a risk factor for devolving depression; incidence of elderly depression in India is higher than the world average of 4% to 16%. Rapid urbanization has resulted in mobilization of the youth for economic growth has resulted their parents being left to fend for themselves and alone at home. On occasion when parents travel with their children, they find it difficult to adjust to the alien environment. Living alone or reduced ties from their culture of origin limit the social participation of the elderly predisposing them to the feeling of loneliness, which is strongly associated with the depression and mortality."

"According to WHO report, people above 55 years of age with depression are four times more likely to die of a stroke or heart attack in comparison to their non-depressive counterparts. Home care services need to become an essential part of the Indian healthcare to meet the rising burden of elderly illness. The senior care services can play a pivotal role by providing the elders a companionship and improving their social engagements as a solution to their loneliness.”,Dr. Grewal, added.

Swadeep Srivastava Managing Partner and Chief Belief Officer IVH SeniorCare said, “In the rapidly growing home care and eldercare market, a reliable and trustworthy resource provider was missing. We closed this gap by incorporating the values of ex-defence personnel in the home care industry. A sturdy mixture of healthcare experts and ex-defence personnel is our biggest differentiator. IVH SeniorCare is committed to complete wellbeing of elders and our social interaction services are our initiative to fight elderly loneliness and depression.”

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