Keep the elderly healthy

Father’s Day is approaching. A day to remind us that the good lives we have today are the result of the hard work and sacrifice of our parents.  It is the guidance by a father, based on his experience that teaches one to face the outside world.

After growing up, children have a responsibility to care for their parents in their later years and see that they are comfortable and healthy.

If someone develops a chronic problem like hypertension or diabetes by 50 years or so, by the time they retire, they may be on regular medication, needing regular expenditure. Ensure that their blood pressure and blood sugar are  checked at regular intervals and they have sufficient medicines.

Men after middle age are as prone as women to cervical and lumbar spondylosis due to degenerative changes in the spine. Osteoporosis, that is, diminished density of bone substance, also occurs in women but, the intensity is less. 

Due to this, they suffer from backache. A bed with a thin mattress without a cushion, a straight backed chair is what would be best to prevent it.  These items should be arranged for them and they should be motivated to use them.

With advancing age, the intestines become sluggish in motility, resulting   in constipation. Encourage elderly men to take plenty of water, a high fibre diet and fruits like papaya. A glass of hot water taken before sleeping serves as a safe laxative and should be given regularly.

Reading books and newspapers is a pass time which most retired men enjoy. Eye sight, particularly the near vision, decreases with age, making it difficult to read well. The glasses prescribed to correct this problem have to be checked every year as the number increases every year or two.

A problem unique to men in their later years is the enlargement of the prostate gland. This causes frequency of urination, urgency and   difficulty to pass urine.   Also, at times, it causes increased libido. Men feel may feel embarrassed about these problems and hesitate to talk about them with their children. This could lead to delay in seeking treatment and complications like sudden retention of urine and even renal failure, because of repeated urinary tract infections. A sympathetic and understanding attitude of the son/daughter would encourage a father to talk about such problems, thus timely management could be done, preventing complications.

Regular physical exercise is necessary at all ages but more in senior citizens for their good physical health. But some persons simply avoid it. It is not good for their children to merely point this out to them. To motivate them,   it is best that the children/grandchildren do it with them. This way, they will start doing exercise regularly.

For the good mental health of an aging man, it is essential for children to keep the admiration and affection for them. A man at this age is more sensitive than a woman. His ego won’t let him discuss any of his problems with his children. If neglected or ignored, he will feel hurt though he won’t speak about it.  Those who have held key positions during their working years find it very difficult to adjust to a retired life.  Due to these factors, many men suffer from depression and or anxiety at this stage of life. This manifests   as   difficulty in sleeping, agitation, aggravation of diabetes and hypertension, among other diseases. To prevent this, it is necessary that the children remain vigilant and careful about the needs of their father. He should be attended to without him requesting for it.

So, take good care of your dad this Father’s Day, and the rest of the days to come.

Dr Rachna Pande,                                              

Specialist, internal medicine

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