Arthritis confines the elderly
A recent study on the bone health of senior citizens in the national capital region (NCR) reveals a grim picture. As per the study, only 8% the elderly population reported enjoying good health without suffering any major problems and 85% of the respondents reported suffering different kinds of problems related to bones and joints. This makes bone and joint problems the top most restricting factor for the elderly.
The epidemiological study conducted by the Arthritis Foundation of India (AFI) among senior citizens living on the second floor and above hinted at restricted activity of senior citizens due to various bone ailments. The study was conducted on a sample size of 1,300 participants (900 in Delhi and 400 in NCR) drawn from various parts of Delhi, Faridabad, Noida and Ghaziabad as well.
The study was conducted under the guidance of Dr Sushil Sharma, senior orthopaedic surgeon and chairman, AFI. By a rough estimate, 30% to 40% of the senior citizens in Delhi and neighbouring cities in NCR live on the second floor due to space crunch resulting in vertical growth of buildings without any elevator.
In the total percentage of respondents, women contributed 55% while men contributed only 45%. An extremely depressing revelation was that 10% of the respondents were not in a position to walk to the ground floor at all.
“Just 56% persons between the age group of 60-65 are able to come down thrice and only 37% among the 66 and aboveyear-old could do so. Many respondents said despite extreme difficulty they are compelled to move because either they are single or live in a nuclear family,” said Dr Sharma.
As per the study, of the senior citizens living on the third floor and above, 17% never make it to the ground level. Further, almost 60% of the respondents were not able to manage personal cleanliness while 84% are not fit enough to travel alone.
“While 81% of the elderly consulted orthopaedic surgeons and physician specialists, there is virtually no awareness about the role of endocrinologist and rheumatologist in relation to these problems,” said Dr Sharma. AFI has demanded that the union and state governments should re-plan their health related programmes to include bone and joint diseases in it.
“Both the Central and State Governments are not giving serious attention to solve these problems and because of this, very few hospitals have facilities to cure and rectify problems related to osteoporosis and arthritis,” said Dr PK Dave, former director, AIIMS and patron, AFI. AFI reiterated the demand for a national programme on bone and joint diseases.