Health problems and healthcare needs of elderly- community perspective from a rural setting in India
Keywords:Healthcare needs, Gerontology, Community geriatrics, Qualitative research
Background: Population is ageing in India. Health care and other needs associated with ageing have risen. The study objectives were to explore the concept of ‘healthy ageing’; health problems of elderly; and felt needs in the care of elderly perceived by the community.
Methods: Total of five focus group discussions was conducted. Three Focus group discussions were conducted with family members of homebound elderly and one discussion each were conducted with primary health workers and residents of old age home to supplement the qualitative information gathered from the family members.
Results: The participant could make a long list of geriatric health problems. But, their knowledge and attitude towards them was grossly incorrect. All the problems were regarded as part and parcel of ageing for which help was not sought proactively. Mental health problems were regarded as ‘behavioural’ and ‘psychological’ problems. The health problems had its bad effect on family relationships. The perceived healthcare needs were mostly of palliative nature. Day care centres were proposed to improve social interaction of elderly. The community could not afford the level of services which they need. Home care visits by a health team were regarded highly useful.
Conclusions: Wide spectrum of barriers to healthcare access of elderly exists in the community. In this regard, a comprehensive community based geriatric health care program including health promotive, preventive, curative and palliative services needs to be formulated with a strong component of health education.
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