Care for elderly a priority

As we grow older, we are more susceptible to diseases, injuries as well as age-related illnesses, requiring constant care. So how do we care for them?
According to the Ministry of Health’s ‘Vision 2050’, elderly citizens (60 years and above) will comprise 13.1 per cent of the Omani population and those above 65 years 8.4 per cent as against 6.1 per cent and 4.3 per cent in 2012, respectively.
The vision report also said the ageing population is likely to be more vulnerable to non-communicable diseases (NCDs), besides age-related illnesses, increasing the need for expensive health services.
In the Sultanate, 72.9 per cent of deaths have been attributed to NCDs, 24.3 (cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure), 7 per cent (cancer) and 2.2 per cent (diabetes), as per the 2016 statistics.
“People are living longer. It is important because they can guide the younger generation. At the same time, we need to take care of their health and other old-age concerns,” said Saima, who lives with her parents-in-law.
A senior gastroenterologist at a private hospital said: “Even an otherwise healthy senior citizen can face issues such as acidity, bone weakness and occasional memory loss or depression. So it is better to interact with them more and allow them to do things at their pace.”
Mohammed Younis, whose father is about 90 years, said, “Except for a few issues with the eyesight, he is fully independent. He takes his own decisions.”
He says it’s not just the government, but everyone should take care of elders so they can “guide the younger generation”.
A quarter of the GCC population will be over the age of 65 by 2050, said a Deloitte’s report titled ‘Life Sciences and Healthcare Predictions: GCC Trends’.
According to the United Nations, between 2015 and 2030, the number of people in the world aged 60 years and above is projected to grow by 56 per cent (901 million to 1.4 billion). By 2050, the global population of older persons is projected to reach nearly 2.1 billion.
When a country has a large proportion of elderly people, who are generally dependents, it increases the government’s costs as the officials would need to accommodate the needs of the older population.
This is specially a problem in countries where the dependents outnumber a young, working population, says the report.
Globally, the number of people aged 80 years or over (oldest-old) is growing faster than the number of older persons overall.
Projections indicate that by 2050, the oldest-old will number 434 million, while their number was 125 million in 2015.
In the next 15 years, the number of older persons is expected to grow fastest in Latin America and the Caribbean with a projected 71 per cent increase in the population aged 60 years or over, followed by Asia (66 per cent), Africa (64 per cent), Oceania (47 per cent), Northern America (41 per cent) and Europe (23 per cent).