Majority of Lankan elderly unhealthy | Sunday Observer

Majority of Lankan elderly unhealthy


Sri Lanka’s rapidly aging population, one of the highest in the world, is unhealthy and suffer from a host of non communicable diseases which demand increasing access to more geriatric services, Consultant Physician, Colombo South Teaching Hospital, Kalubowila, Dr Dilhar Samaraweera told the Sunday Observer.

Based on his own research in Geriatrics, Dr Samaraweera said, the main reason for hospital admissions among the elderly were, non communicable diseases (NCDs) such as, heart diseases, diabetes and related complications, stroke, arthritis and cancer.”

Most elderly people will have more than one chronic disease when they reach 65 years. Multiple diseases result in multiple drugs which have an adverse and financial burden, with poverty in old age”, he noted.

He said, while the Health Ministry has developed a mechanism to manage NCDs at an early stage with Healthy Lifestyle clinics at community level to conduct screening for NCDs in males and females, and Well Woman clinics offering free pap smears, investigations, etc, there was still a huge demand for more geriatric services, as there is a great demand for more human resources in caring for these people”, he said, “services which are sadly lacking.” “ Elders need easy access to available services.

They need a social security mechanism that ensures they obtain these services, and more geriatric services, especially tailored for their needs, based on a holistic and multi disciplinary approach,” he pointed out.

He welcomed the move for setting up Anti Poverty Samurdhi Banks to host care centres for seniors during daytime, providing them recreational facilities and medical checks, and hoped that skilled and active elderly could be trained in starting their own businesses.

According to latest statistics, 9.3% of elderly over 75 were still economically active.

According to the Census & Statistics Department survey in 2014, one out of 4 will be elders in Sri Lanka’s population, expected to hit 25% by 2040. Approximately, 252 million people are elders.”

Dr Samaraweera stressed that with the shortage of elder friendly hospitals, home care should be strengthened . “ I am glad the Ministry has started a training program to train nurses in this field”, he noted.