In a traditional joint family, in contrast to the present day nuclear family, after a point of time, the parents would hand over their kingship to their children and truly have a retired life. Here, proper analysis of their health needs and the treatment are always at an arm's reach.
This is where geriatric care comes into play. Geriatrics, besides being the treatment and care for the elderly, is also about promoting, mental, physical and spiritual health. But geriatrics may not work well if we start when the issue is at its peak.
Orthopaedic issues are the most common issue of old age. It is not enough that you let go of the pain and seek advice when your joints are jammed and immovable.
This article lays emphasis on the preventive and promotive aspects of a few conditions than the curative one where your doctor will need to evaluate you.
1. Orthopaedic issues:
One of the most common ailments in old age are worn-out joints. The bones are one of the most used and least taken-care-of part of the body. Reduction in bone density and laxity of the joints increase with increase in age. In females, with the onset of menopause, the general calcium levels in the body begin to reduce. Thus they begin to be more prone to bone injuries. Hence, the inclusion of more calcium in the diet is very important. Calcium can be ingested in the form of greens, paneer, tofu, and fish. Buttermilk is most preferred. Similarly, regular oil massages with Moringa infused oils, Shastika rice in diet and a Shashtika Pinda Swedam once in a month will help keep the joints firm. Sesame seeds and oil in the diet will also help keep bone degeneration at check.
Normal loosening exercises of all the joints, along with light yoga postures such as Bhujangasana, Trikonasana, Virabhadraasana, Paschimottasana will help keep the spine flexible and keep out issues of prolapse.
Varicosities, especially in the lower limbs, are very common in old age. Varicose veins are caused due to insufficient pumping back of the venous blood. This is generally because of the loosened and inefficient action of the muscles of the lower limb. This causes tortuousness of the veins. The pooled blood which is rich in carbon dioxide, weakens the muscles and causes cramps. It also causes odema of the entire leg, heaviness and thus difficulty in movement. Heel pain is also an accompaniment.
Haemorrhoids' are also varicosities of the anal area. These cause difficulty in motions which can lead to the above conditions. Adequate hydration is very much required. Simple dinner and a proper healthy breakfast of carbohydrates and vegetables are advisable. The inclusion of ghee in the diet, as long as there is no acidity, is very helpful. Most importantly, the right exercises, such as Viparita Karani, Shalabhasana, Pavanamuktasana will bring in a lot of relief.
3. Mental aptitude:
Just like how the motor parts of the body begin to degenerate, with the onset of old age, there is also degeneration of the brain tissue. This degeneration affects mostly the thinking part of the brain - generally the frontal part. This affects memory, mostly short-term memory. Pains and mental fatigue-causing stress adds up to the memory loss due to defective action of the hippocampus. It also leads to anxiety and slowly into depressions.
Meeting up with old acquaintances can bring up happier memories and lessen stress. Some of the old techniques of gathering at social places such as temples and panchayats had a similar effect. Prayers are a form of memory enhancing exercise. Similarly, story telling and being with children help keep the brain activated in a positive way.
Constant encouragement and the infusion of confidence and trust in them that they are not alone is what is most essential. Ghee and water intake is very essential. Pranayamas and meditations will help bring in peacefulness and concentration. Drinking a litre of tulsi water will also help improve mental aptitude.
Geriatric issues vary from person to person and only the most common three have been touched upon here.
Note: Your diet and exercises need to be checked with your doctor before self help.