Definition: Healthcare of people that are 60 and above can loosely be defined as Geriatric care, however it would not be an exaggeration if the age limit is dropped to 58 years in the Indian context. A Geriatric Care comprises of preventive component, home health component and some advanced care needs components for long term.
When defined as above, Geriatric care is a significant component impacting not just the healthcare but the entire national GDP
Contrary to the public perception geriatric care is not just bathing senior citizens or helping them with walking aids. It involves a lot more by keeping them with healthy years which may be termed as their precious years. Constituting about 1/3rd of the entire life span, the years can be very challenging or rewarding. Gone by the times where geriatric care was considered as passive, adhoc , let go attitude. Raising living standards and quality years, demand that the people are healthy for as long as possible irrespective of age. Hence the phrase “Biological age overrides the chronological age”.
Of all the components of healthcare, least organized, least funded segment is Geriatric Care. The proof rests in the fact that in medical council a few dozen’s of doctors are registered as Geriatricians, while Pediatricians numbers runs into few thousands (note: numbers to be verified). It is indeed a paradox what needs moussed has got the least. (Pediatricians numbers global % and national % to be inserted by Healthygx team). With this mind boggling numbers it is clear that we are way far from meeting the requirements. It also is reflected by the number of elderly care homes, assisted living facilities and number of businesses that cater to exclusively to this age group.
Not just institutional analyses and statistics, common sense dictates that a country with the largest chunk of young population will someday be a country with the largest chunk of old age population. It is only matter of time before India feels the heat. Predictions –statistics 2001 Census > 60 yrs 7.7% , 2011 8.14% , 2021 – 133.32 million, 2031 -178.59 , 2041 -236.01 million, 2051 – 300.96 million. These numbers indicate that crises is bruing and appropriate, steps need to be initiated by the government and more so every individual. It is the collective responsibility of the society to gear up to the impending healthcare challenges. In the years coming we would see increasing number of assisted living facilities, pre terminal and terminal illness care facilities. Geriatrics evolving as a speciality, independent businesses developing exclusivity in Geriatric services. In India, 64% of hospital visits can be addressed in home-based environment. Advancements in home healthcare services is expected to lower healthcare burden and as a result would create high market revenue opportunity for players engaged in home healthcare services.
The biggest challenge is not realizing the enormity of the problem, this will deter the appropriate timely measures be taken by the government and society. The second biggest challenge is the pace at which the crises unfolds. We will be living in an era of continuing infectious diseases, contagious diseases super imposed by in communicable, life style and age related diseases. This situation is unlike the western world where there is a phasic evolution from one to the other. Financial burden of the above problem is the next major challenge. Most of this segment would not be economically productive and infact may be dependent to a greater extent. An investment on this segment may be seen as investment with more returns.
Challenge and opportunities are either side of a coin. Geriatric care be a huge business opportunity based on the sheer scale of population and money involved. There is an opportunity for customized industry development which includes real estate, services, employment and so forth. Technology will be at the heart of all this emerging business and economy.
How we take care of our parents is how our children will take care of their parents. Economy business opportunity all set aside there is a significant human responsibility in taking care of our elderly which not indirectly but directly means taking care of ourselves