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Mainstream, VOL LIX No 16, New Delhi, April 3, 2021

Policy For Elder People On COVID 19 Pandemic | Sahay & Sethy

Friday 2 April 2021

by Dr. Ashok Kumar Sahay and Prabira Sethy *

Introduction:

The Covid 19 Pandemic has affected Elderly people a lot. Because they need special attention as well as care in terms of health, love, and affection from the Government, families, and societies.

Older persons are particularly susceptible to the risk of infection from COVID-19, especially those with chronic health conditions such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

Older persons are not just struggling with greater health risks but are also likely to be less capable of supporting themselves in isolation. Although social distancing is necessary to reduce the spread of the disease, if not implemented correctly, such measures can also lead to the increased social isolation of older persons at a time when they may be at the most need of support.

The discourse around COVID-19, in which it is perceived as a disease of older people, exacerbates negative stereotypes about older persons who may be viewed as weak, unimportant, and a burden on society. Such age-based discrimination may manifest in the provision of services because the treatment of older persons may be perceived to have less value than the treatment of younger generations. International human rights law guarantees everyone the right to the highest attainable standard of health and obligates Governments to take steps to provide medical care to those who need it. Shortages of ventilators, for example, necessitate the adoption of triage policies and protocols based on medical, evidence-based and ethical factors, rather than arbitrary decisions based on age.

In this context, solidarity between generations, combating discrimination against older people, and upholding the right to health, including access to information, care and medical services is key.

Condition of the Older People during Covid 19:

During Covid 19 crisis elder people are particularly affected by COVID-19. Older persons who are living in nursing homes for chronic diseases and rehabilitation centers and old age home due to family problems are particularly vulnerable to infection and adverse outcomes from COVID-19. Older persons who are living alone also face barriers to obtaining accurate information, on health condition, food, medication, and other essential supplies during quarantine conditions and community outreach where will be required. Older persons, especially in isolation, those with cognitive decline disabled mentally as well as physically, and those who are highly care-dependent, need a constant of practical and emotional support through informal networks (families), health workers, caregivers, and volunteers as well communities based organisation and civil society, NGO’s working for Elderly people.

Therefore inorder to get special attention in future if such pandemic like COVID-19 crisis will come up ,we have to listen their voices, opinions and concerns from families,those civil society who are working for them as well Government’s Department are important in formulating responses at Policy level.

Conclusion:

It is a fact that India has the 2 nd largest populace in the world. Though it has a comparatively young populace, but there are 139.6 million populace aged over 60 years old. At this juncture of time, COVID -19 poses a serious challenge to the aged in India because 70 percent of whom live in rural areas. The strictly measures such as social and physical distancing, self isolation and travel restrictions disproportionately disrupt livelihoods of the aged and their access to routine health care, pathology services and non emergency surgeries both in the short and long term. One of the horrifying aspects of COVID -19 is the harm it puts on older persons who meet with manifold and compounding threats including being physically more vulnerable than others due to greater risk of the impacts of social segregation and are at major peril from the likely long-established socio economic shocks of the pandemic. Besides, the bulk of older people do not have dependable and continued access to a caregiver. Facing lacking or only least safety nets, a number of have by now slid into poverty during the pandemic or are on the cusp of doing so. They are dying more than the young at home from COVID -19 due to their not accessibility to essential health care system.

Government of India in its relief package for COVID -19 declared Rs. 1,000 and Rs. 11 increased pension for million widows and senior citizens. But there is no support in the Government of India’s policy in the second relief package for senior citizens. Thus the pandemic has brought into centre the serious need for both governments and civil society to take care of the compound demographic move of populating aging with planned solution. To do fruitfully we require a life cycle approach to healthy aging with particular emphasis on women. Thus the need of the hour is to protect the aged from the virus exposure to prevent them from greater the risk of morbidity and mortality in India.

For this to create a database of information regarding the heightened risks of COVID-19 for older persons.Though the scale of testing and nature of reporting should be strictly followed by at the initial reporting stage so that enough information can be collected.
Attention should be given to the number of older persons, with other serious structural health problem, health resources at the family level, monetary condition at the family level, Government policies for elder people limited experience caring for older patients, less institutional care for older persons, and far fewer public or NGO support structures for outreach, screening and community-based care of older persons.

People aged above 60 accounted for over 50% of the country’s coronavirus-related deaths. "protect them from infections and death. “Education — both for correct information and for behavior change — is a must, and the government should focus on it so educating the public is urgent. creating a sense of community whether it is between the residents, team, or the family of residents. The ‘Care at Home’ and Care Home Services by like-minded people can live together

(Authors: Dr. Ashok Kumar Sahay, ISS, New Delhi, and Prabira Sethy. Assistant professor. Maharaja Agrasen College, University of Delhi)

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