Approximately, 7.4 percent of total population in Bangladesh falls under the range of old age although there is no clear cut demarcation between middle age and old age. Old age is generally considered the striking time of multiple disease agents.
However, old age is not always bad if someone can keep him or her physically and mentally fit. Aging process cannot be prevented but can be delayed. It is possible to make the old age worthy as well. Younger generation can learn a lot sharing the experience of older generation.
In poor and developing countries, old generations are not always welcomed because of many social and economic factors. Non-communicable diseases like diabetes, hypertension, stroke, cancer, chronic obstructive lung diseases, cataract (opacity in the lens of the eye leading to visual problem), prostate enlargement and its complications in urination, hormonal problems in female affects predominantly at old age.
There is also increased the chance of fall, traumatic injury, fractures, dementia, impaired hearing and vision. All these factors make the elderly people non productive, incapable and become burden to the family and society.
Geriatric medicine is a sub-specialty in medical science that deals with the medical problems of old age. Unfortunately this sub-specialty has not yet been established in Bangladesh. However, with the increase of older population in Bangladesh, the demand of geriatric medicine is increasing by and by.
Managing old age diseases are not an easy task. It needs patience, time, skill and a different approach. We have more than 6,000 NGOs but only a few are dealing with old age people. Health insurance that is non-existent in Bangladesh may be very valuable at this age.
There is a common saying, old is gold. So, we all should pay attention and give due respect to them. Proper care in old age is crucial to help them live a worthwhile life.
The writer is a Paediatrician working in Community Based Medical College (CBMC), Mymensingh.
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