Geriatrics as a specialty is not getting the attention it deserves despite the high importance and urgency of the training in the country, observed experts gathered at the international workshop on Geriatrics and Gerontology held at the Baby Memorial Hospital (BMH), Calicut on 29 February and 1 March.
The need for initiation of geriatric care and research is particularly high in the country in view of the growing number of the elderly population, noted the two-day event organised by BMH in association with Kerala University of Health Sciences (KUHAS) and Pallium India, as a part of the initiation for the WHO Decade of Healthy Ageing, 2020-2030.
“Geriatric problems are some of the most common problems we face in OPD daily. Nevertheless, the specialty continues to be unrecognised. In fact, it is one of the critical medical disciplines that has not received proper recognition right now,” said, Dr Dipu Kuttippalaparambil, the organising secretary and Senior Consultant, Department of Medicine, BMH, Calicut.
The aim of this conference was to sensitize the medical population and also other non-medical people about the neglected area of the care of elderly and research opportunities in the field,” added Dr Dipu.
WHO estimates that those over 60 will outnumber children in the world over by 2020 and the population of 60+ age group in the world shall double from 12 to 22% between 2015 and 2050. With increased life expectancy and the growing aged population in the country, it becomes the need of the hour to know how to give patient- centred treatment including the aged population to help them become independent and look forward towards healthy ageing.
The prevailing scenario may not be providing much scope for producing many geriatric specialists. Still, by recommending basic geriatric training to every doctor starting from the primary care will help develop some interest in the specialty.
“Taking up geriatrics calls for commitment and compassion,” says Dr R Krishnan, organising chairperson, and Senior Consultant, Department of Medicine, BMH Calicut.
With mounting numbers of the elderly, India we are fast catching up with the West. Many of these senior citizens had important jobs and were pillars of the society, Most of them are still mentally agile and want to retain their independence and dignity. Managing their welfare and medical problems is something we can ill afford to ignore. adds he.
According to Prof Alka Ganesh, Geriatric Consultant, G Kuppuswamy Naidu Memorial Hospital, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, “Knowledge of individual age-related organ changes and weak links enables understanding of “Geriatric Giants” which implies major categories of impairment that appear in elderly people as their body system starts to fail, mainly immobility, instability, incontinence and impaired intellect/memory, and anticipating “geriatric syndrome” aids to holistic therapy, ”
In India, Geriatrics is a relatively new specialty with only a few major institutes offering MD in Geriatric Medicine and subsequent training which can be pursued after completing the undergraduate training of MBBS.
The conference included various themes like perils of polypharmacy, management of pain, palliative care and end of life care.
The BMH also launched a monograph on Geriatrics & Gerontology Initiative: International Workshop on Care of the Elderly, during the event which hosts various articles contributes by the experts. The free access, online version, is currently available as a supplement at the BMH Journal website archived at Index Copernicus International. The link for its access is as follows: https://www.babymhospital.org/BMH_MJ/index.php/BMHMJ/issue/view/31.