• In India, there’s a speciality, and super specialities, for Pediatrics, but none in Geriatrics. Who cares for the elderly anyways, goes the common refrain in the country with the highest young population in the world, and it proves true in the medical field as well. Unlike in the West, where healthcare for the elderly is a priority area, the Indian government does not seem to have any focus, or thrust on specialised healthcare for the elderly. In fact the country does not have a post graduation in Geriatrics, and, whatever facilities dedicated to the elderly there are in select private hospitals, are manned by generalist doctors, one odd among them with perhaps a fellowship in geriatrics.

Admitting to the sorry state of affairs, organisers of the three-day 5th International Conference of Geriatric Orthopedic Society of India 2017, being held at Hyatt Regency in Chandigarh, said it was their Society’s endeavour to at least train orthopedicians in a holistic approach to treatment of orthopaedic problems of the elderly, who are most in need for specialised treatment when their physical and mental faculties start to show signs of wear and tear.

 

 

Interacting with media persons on the sidelines of the conference, Dr John Ebnezar, Padma Shri, and president of the Society, and Dr Vijay G. Goni, organising secretary of the conference, alongwith other senior orthopedicians said even while treating the orthopaedic issues of the elderly there was a need for a multi-dimensional and holistic approach to their treatment and rehabilitation. Ideally they should first be attended to by a geriatric specialist before being referred to an orthopaedic specialist or a multi speciality team of doctors. Among the orthopaedic problems which most afflict the elderly are osteoarthritis, fractures, dislocations, osteoporosis, etc, they added.

But along with these issues most elderly people also suffer from other health issues as well like chronic back pain, hypertension, diabetes, depression, dementia, which have to be tackled simultaneously, thus bringing in other medical specialists, including neurologists, psychiatrists, rheumatologists and endocrinologists, they said, adding that even after orthopaedic surgeries, occupational therapies are necessary for the proper rehabilitation of elderly patients.

Dr Sanjeev Patnaik and Dr Uday Kumar shared their experiences of some of the advanced countries, where healthcare authorities even went to the extent of not discharging elderly patients from hospital after orthopedic surgeries unless they make sure that the patients’ support system at home is conducive to their proper physical and mental rehabilitation.

The orthopedicians uged the Union and state governments to urgently create infrastructure to train geriatric specialists and set up specialised geriatric healthcare facilities across the country, to gear up for a scenario of the country with the largest young population turning into a country with the largest elderly population in the next four-five decades.