Experts call for better health facilities for growing elderly population in Pakistan


 World Brain Day

Experts call for better health facilities for
growing elderly population in Pakistan

KARACHI: Number of elderly people including those having 65 years of age or above is around nine million in Pakistan, of which around 30 percent are suffering from one or other type of neurological and psychological disorders. Only a few thousand have access to proper diagnosis and treatment of their age-related neurological and psychological issues. These views were expressed by renowned neurologists and psychiatrists at an awareness seminar on the eve of World Brain Day, which is observed on July 22 around the globe to draw the attention towards issues facing aged people. The seminar was organized by Pakistan Society of Neurology in collaboration with Neurology Awareness and Research Foundation (NARF) and M/s Lundbeck Pakistan.

In Pakistan, neurological and psychological disorders among aged population are considered as consequences of growing age but in fact they are diseases that can be treated with medicines, prevented with care and managed with proper diet, exercise and activities. Prof. Muhammad Wassey, from Aga Khan University Hospital Speaking at the occasion said that   number of elderly people, who were above 65 years of age was growing rapidly and in Japan, it had exceeded the population of young children. Globally, the number of elderly people is 800 million that is expected to rise two billion by 2050, he added. With growing age, neurological and psychological disorders like stroke, dementia and Parkinson’s disease are increased while psychological disorders like depression, GAD and other mental health issues are also very common among people of growing age. These diseases could be avoided, prevented and treated with counseling, medication and lifestyle modification, he added.

Group photograph of speakers and participants of awareness seminar on the eve of World Brain Day,
organized by Pakistan Society of Neurology in collaboration with Neurology Awareness and
Research Foundation (NARF) and M/s Lundbeck Pakistan at Karachi on July 21st, 2016.

Continuing Prof. Wassay said that there was no age of retirement as retiring from physical and mental activities can be extremely detrimental for people above the age of 65, who may have developed various neurological and psychological issues. Unfortunately, only a 100,000 people in Pakistan have so far been diagnosed with dementia, a neurological disorder although the actual number of people with this disorder could be in millions, adding that only a few thousand people had the opportunity to seek and afford the treatment of mental disorder. In our society, neurological and psychological issues of elderly people are considered as consequence of growing age and they have to live their remaining life with these issues although they can be prevented and treated as well. He suggested that with mental and physical exercises, having balanced diet, quitting smoking and alcohol, controlling blood pressure, diabetes, stress and tension could be some of the major interventions to avoid getting neurological and psychological disorders.

Prof. Iqbal Afridi, Head of the Psychiatry Department at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center, Karachi addressing the participants said decline of recent memory, decreased speed of processing, decreased attention and concentration besides decline of orientation are the major symptoms of neurological and psychological disorders. Balanced diet, mental and physical exercise , proper and continuous use of mental abilities keeps a person fit psychologically and patient would continue to enjoy the last years and days of his blessed life instead of living it miserably.

Prof. Shaukat Ali, Prof. Ejaz Ahmad  Vohra, Prof. Hamid Shafqat, Dr. Uniza Niaz and Dr. Abdul Malik also spoke at the occasion and  stressed on the healthy lifestyle, availability of the recreational facilities and proper healthcare opportunities for the elderly population so that they could live like normal human beings in the society. Instead considering themselves as useless creatures and retired persons, elderly people should continue to work, engage themselves in social welfare, solve puzzles, read and write regularly and have both physical and mental exercises to remain fit. Society also required understanding the physical, social and health needs of elderly people, whose population would grow in the coming years and providing them best opportunities instead of becoming physically and mentally handicapped persons. (PR)

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