“Beautiful young people are accidents of nature but beautiful old people are works of art.” Some people don’t just become older they just become classic
These two lines sum up why the health of our elderly population is very important.Health is more than the absence of disease . Health is about jobs and employment, education, the environment and all of those things that go into making us healthy.
Health is a right
“The measure of a country’s greatness depends on how well it cares for its most vulnerable population.” A population that does not care of the elderly and of the children and the young has no future because it abuses both its memory and its promise.If we don’t take care of our elderly we will be wasting our very important resources.
Age and Disease
The single greatest risk factor for developing cancer is aging. Advancing age is a high risk factor for cancer, with persons over 65 accounting for 60% of newly diagnosed malignancies and 70% of all cancer deaths. Thus, the incidence of cancer in those over 65 is 10 times greater than in those younger than 65 and the cancer death rate is 16 times greater in patients over 65 compared to younger patients. More than 70% of the mortality associated with many cancers including prostate, bladder, colon, uterus, pancreas, stomach, rectum and lung occur in patients 65 and older.
It’s very important that we are not just prolonging the life of the elderly but adding quality of life to every day. Every day has to be well lived, with respect, with dignity. Hence prevention, early detection and timely treatment plays a major role.
Don’t ignore the symptoms:
Any symptoms of disease should not be ignored in old age attributing it to age alone. It’s important not just to treat elderly patients with cancer but it is also essential to screen the asympatomatic population.
- Irrespective of any symptoms, females above 50 years of age – mammograms should be prescribed for detecting breast cancer early. The same should be done on yearly basis.
- Pap smear is also recommended every 3 years for females for detection of cervical cancer. Even a single episode of postmenopausal bleeding should not be ignored.
- If there are symptoms of bloating or distension of abdomen and loss of appetite in females, ovarian cancer should be ruled out.
- Yearly X-ray of the chest and ultrasound of the abdomen is a must to detect cancers early. Stool for hidden blood should be done yearly and colonoscopy is recommended once every 10 years to rule out any possibility of colon cancer or cancer of the large intestine.
Yearly blood levels of PSA are a must after 45 years of age to easily detect cancer of the prostate, a curable malignancy if diagnosed early. Apart from these how can we forget the importance of complete blood counts, liver and kidney function tests, lipid profile, cardiac check ups and physical examination by a doctor.
Don’t take age as a burden:
We must not forget that we have to take care of our elderly as aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.The best classroom in the world is at the feet of elderly people. So the need of the hour is to preserve their health.My only message to my elderly people is,
‘Don’t get weird about getting older! Your age is merely the number of years, the world is enjoying you!’