Health - Ailments and Management

Hypertension, cardiac problems, diabetes, joint pains, kidney infections, cancer, tuberculosis and eye problems are some ailments that generally affect senior citizens. These disorders require proper and in some cases prolonged treatment. Medical treatments for senior citizens include various cures ranging from allopathic to naturopathy treatments.

In this section, we give you information about common health problems that affect senior citizens, prevention tips and treatment centres. If you are an older person, it is important that you get medical checkups regularly to prevent the onset of any of these health conditions. Once they occur, these conditions may take a long time to heal. This leads to a lot of unnecessary expenses and stress. That’s why prevention is the best cure.

If you are unsure about your doctors’ diagnosis, it always helps to get a second or third opinion from other doctors. Beware of fake or unscrupulous doctors who are out to make a quick buck. Government Hospitals are a good guarantee of the right diagnosis plus they are much cheaper than private hospitals. Always consult your doctor before undertaking any exercises, using medicines or dieting.


·         Arthritis and Osteoporosis

Arthritis is the inflammation of the joint. It is the leading cause of disability in people over the age of 55. There are different types of arthritis that cause varied levels of discomfort. Treatment options include physical therapy, occupational therapy and medication as well as procedures such as an Arthroplasty or joint replacement surgery. A balanced diet, body cleansing, physical activity, sweating and relaxation techniques may be used make patients feel better.

Osteoporosis is a silent disease in which bones become extremely fragile. If left untreated, it can progress painlessly until a bone breaks. These broken bones, also known as fractures, typically occur in the hip, spine and wrist. They are extremely painful and can take a long time to heal.

Prevention Steps

1.     Take your recommended amounts of calcium and vitamin D daily.

2.     Participate in regular weight-bearing exercise

3.     Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol

4.     Take a bone density test to check the condition of your bones.


Some Specialised Care Centres

1.     Shalby Hospital, Ahmedabad

2.     Sancheti Institute, Pune

3.     Samvedana Pain Hospital

4.     Sir Ganga Ram Hospital,Delhi


·         Mental Illnesses

Senior Citizens are susceptible to a variety of mental illnesses. Depression is the most common of these. Symptoms of depression include-

1.     Lack of interest in activities you enjoyed doing.

2.     Sadness or unexplained crying spells, jumpiness or irritability

3.     Loss of memory, inability to concentrate, confusion or disorientation

4.     Thoughts of death or suicide

5.     Change in appetite and sleep patterns.

6.     Persistent fatigue, lethargy, aches and other unexplainable physical problems


·         Dementias and Pseudo/dementias

These health issues are characterized by confusion, memory loss and disorientation. Diseases such as Parkinson's and Huntington's as well as high blood pressure and strokes may cause it. When organs such as the heart, lungs, thyroid, pituitary and other glands do not function well, mental processes are affected. This leads to Dementia.

Dementia is different from general forgetfulness and confusion that is a part of old age and can be easily reversed.


·         Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer’s is a slow and gradual disease that begins in the part of the brain that controls the memory. As it spreads to other parts of the brain, it affects a greater number of intellectual, emotional and behavioural abilities. There is no known cause for this disease.

The best way to prevent these conditions from occurring is to keep yourself mentally busy. Take part in activities such as dancing, yoga and meditation. Read books, play board games and interact with other people to enhance the quality of your life. Eat a balanced nutritious diet and avoid alcohol and smoking. Consult your doctor about mineral and vitamin supplements that could be of help. In some cases you may be prescribed medicines.

A Few Special Care Centres

1.     NIMHANS

2.     Rehabilitation Council Of India


  • Blood Pressure

·         Blood pressure refers to the force exerted by circulating blood on the walls of your blood vessels. Typical values for a healthy adult human are approximately 120/80. Large variations in blood pressure levels can be dangerous, so it always helps to keep your pressure under control. This can be done through regular checkups, medicines, lifestyle changes and relaxation techniques. Here are some basic steps that may be followed.


·         High Blood Pressure or Hypertension

1.                 Maintain a healthy body weight

2.          Follow a healthy eating plan that emphasizes fruits, vegetables and   

          low fat dairy foods.

3.          Drink alcoholic beverages in moderation.

4.          Be physically active

5.          Quit smoking


·         Low Blood Pressure

1.           Drink a lot of water.

2.           Cool down after exercising. Stopping in the middle of an exercise routine

       can drop  blood pressure.       

3.           Drink healthy juices or any non-alcoholic drinks.

4.           Increase salt intake.

5.           Take a walk after having a meal. This helps in bringing the blood pressure level to


(Please consult your doctor before undertaking any of the above steps).


  • Heart attack

A heart attack is caused by the death of the heart muscle due to loss of blood supply caused by blockage in one or more of the coronary arteries. In India, heart disease is the single largest cause of death in the country. Most heart problems are directly related to unhealthy eating habits, stress and lack of physical exercises.

To prevent heart attacks or other heart diseases, it is important to make changes in your lifestyle and live a healthy life. Undergoing medical check-ups regularly is equally important.

Given below are some of the basics of staying free from heart diseases.

1.     Eat a healthy diet to prevent or reduce high blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels.  

2.     Lose weight if you are overweight.

3.     Quit smoking. Find alternative ways to cope with stress

4.     Participate in a physical activity. Do healthy exercises, walk, run and practice yoga (under supervision or guidance).


Specialised heart hospitals in India:

  1. All India Institute of Medical Sciences
  2. Escorts Heart Institute and Research Centre
  3. Apollo Hospitals
  4. Narayana Hrudayalaya
  5. Wockhardt Heart Hospitals
  6. Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiology in Bangalore
  7. BM Birla Heart Research Centre


  • Cancer

Cancer is a generic term for a group of more than 100 diseases that can affect different parts of the body. Among elderly men, cancers of the prostrate and colon are the most common while for women it is breast cancer. Other cancers found in geriatric patients are skin, lung, pancreas, bladder, rectum and stomach cancer. A major initiative taken by the Government against Cancer was the initiation of the National Cancer Control Programme. This programme aims on primary prevention and early detection of the disease. To improve availability of cancer treatment facilities, various Regional Cancer Centres have been established across the country.

Here are some tips that help prevent cancer :

1.     Quit smoking: It is better late than never.

2.     Moderate your diet. Diets high in fruits and vegetables may have a protective effect against many cancers.

3.     Do regular physical activity and maintain a healthy body weight.

4.     Avoid excessive exposure to ionizing radiation. Use sunscreen and protective clothing while walking in the sun.


Specialised Cancer Hospitals in India

  1. Jawaharlal Nehru Cancer Hospital and Research Centre
  2. The Gujarat Cancer and Research Institute
  3. Indian Cancer Society
  4. Kailash Cancer Hospital and Research Centre
  5. MNJ Institute of Oncology
  6. Apollo Cancer Hospital
  7. Bangalore Institute of Oncology
  8. Tata Memorial Hospital
  • Kidney diseses

Any diseases or disorder that affects the functioning of the kidneys is a kidney disease. Kidney diseases can be characterized as hereditary, congenital or acquired. Chronic kidney disease is known to affect the elderly and is associated with a high risk of kidney failure, cardiovascular disease and death.

About 200,000 persons in India go into terminal kidney failure every year. Millions of others suffer from lesser forms of kidney diseases. Keeping in mind the level of kidney problems in India a voluntary organization called the National Kidney Foundation (India) has been formed by concerned individuals.

Prevention of kidney disease:

  1. Keep blood pressure under control.
  2. Maintain a healthy weight.
  3. Maintain healthy levels of fats (lipids), such as cholesterol and triglycerides.
  4. Do not smoke or use any tobacco products.


Specialised Hospitals that treat kidney problems in India

  1. Wockhardt Hospital and Kidney Institute
  2. National Kidney Hospital, Jalandhar - Call Here - 0181-2440252, 5083883, 2272236 and 2223252.
  3. National Kidney Foundation
  • Tuberculosis

It is estimated that two people die of TB every three minutes in India. These deaths can be prevented through modern anti-TB treatment such as DOTS that has to be undertaken for a prescribed duration. The government has established the National Tuberculosis Programme to create the infrastructure for the control of the disease.

Prevention of Tuberculosis

1.     Wash hands frequently, especially after being around people with chronic coughs.

2.     Take an annual TB test. They are available at minimal costs at community clinics.

3.     Chest X-ray cab be undertaken to detect clinical signs of TB in lungs.

4.     Avoid standing close to people when they are coughing.

5.     A lot of fresh air should be inhaled to keep lungs healthy.

6.     A healthy diet that is rich in vitamins, minerals, calcium, protein and fibre should be consumed.


  • Diabetes:

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder characterized high blood sugar and other signs. It occurs when the beta cells of the pancreas are unable to produce sufficient insulin. The main problem with diabetes is that it cannot be cured, it can only be managed to make you feel better.


Tips to control diabetes

  1. Exercise daily: Morning walk, yoga, running and aerobics all help.
  2. Make healthy food choices: Choose foods with lower fat, calories and salt. Try fresh vegetables and fresh fruits. Replace soft drinks with fresh juices and water.
  3. Eat sensible meals and snacks at regular times throughout the day.
  4. Eat slowly. It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to send a signal to your brain that you' are full.
  • Eyes:

Loss of vision and eye diseases like cataracts and age related macular degeneration are major eye problems of the elderly. The Government has launched the National Programme for Control of Blindness to treat various eye problems and control blindness. Here are some tips to help you maintain good eyesight -

Tips to avoid eye problems

1.     When doing concentrated activity such as sewing or reading, rest your eyes for five minutes at 30-minute intervals. Look away from your work, close your eyes, or simply stare off into space.

2.     Blink regularly. This breaks the continuous focus.

3.     Palm your eyes. Sit comfortably, breathe deeply and cover your eyes with the palms of your hands.

4.     Protect your eyes from direct sunrays and any kind of dangerous substances.


Specialised Eye Hospitals in India:

  1. AIIMS
  2. Wockhardt Eye Hospital, Mumbai
  3. Sankara Nethralaya
  4. Chaithanya Eye Hospital and Research Institute
  5. Guru Nanak Eye Centre
  6. Aravind Eye Hospital
  • Skin Problems:

Common skin problems that are faced by the elderly are Stasis Dermatitis and Exfoliative dermatitis. Stasis Dermatitis causes redness, swelling, tenderness and dry scaly skin. It is caused by water pooling in the lower leg due to poor blood flow in the veins. Treatments for this condition include raising the leg, wrapping the leg with an elastic bandage and medication.

Exfoliative dermatitis is excessive peeling or shedding of the skin. The skin may feel tight or hair may be lost in that area. It may be caused by drug reactions, leukaemia, malignancies and other immune deficiencies. Treatments include bed rest, lukewarm soaks or baths, creams and lotions, prescription medications such as antihistamines and rubbing the skin gently when it itches.

Do not scratch the skin for any of the above conditions. The use of sunscreen is a useful prevention strategy.


Hospitals in states, cities have deployed practitioners to help Senior Citizen patients with bone problems, cardio treatment, kidney related issues and other health problems. Most of such processes may require intake of several expensive advanced medicines (free from side effects) and Government Hospitals also provide medicines to minimize the burden on the Senior Citizens in the process of regaining good health.


1.     Government hospitals in Delhi


2.     Government hospitals in West Bengal, Kolkata


3.     Government hospitals in Kerala


4.     Government hospitals in Maharashtra


5.     Government hospitals in Chennai


6.     Government hospitals in Karnataka


7.     Government hospitals in Gujarat


Medical Insurance

Insurance is considered a form of long-term savings for senior citizens. This money provides financial stability and also helps them in times of need. Medical insurance enables senior citizens to pay for health checkups, emergency medical costs and long-term treatment. The income tax benefit on insurance premiums is up to Rs. 15,000 under Section 80 D of the Income Tax Act, as on March 31, 2007. Medical insurance is provided through several private insurance companies and four public sector general insurance companies.

These are:

  1. National Insurance Company
  2. Oriental Insurance Company
  3. New India Assurance Company
  4. United India Insurance Company


The National Insurance Company offers the Varistha Mediclaim Policy for senior citizens. This policy covers hospitalization and domiciliary hospitalization expenses under Section I as well as expenses for treatment of critical illnesses, if opted for, under Section II. Diseases covered under critical illnesses are coronary artery surgery, cancer, renal failure, stroke, multiple sclerosis and major organ transplants. Paralysis and blindness are covered at extra premium.


Oriental Insurance Company provides a Comprehensive Health Insurance Scheme, a Group Insurance Policy and an Individual Mediclaim Policy. These policies pay for hospitalisation or domiciliary hospitalisation of the insured in case of a sudden illness, an accident or surgery. These conditions should have arisen during the policy period.


The Mediclaim Policy available through New India Assurance Company allows any Indian between 5-80 years to be insured as on March 31, 2007. This policy provides for cashless hospitalization in India for the treatment of any illness, disease or accidental injury suffered during the policy period. The payment of claims is made through third party administrators who have been empanelled by the company.

United India Insurance Company offers a Mediclaim Policy that covers anyone between the ages of 5-75 years. The policy pays for actual hospitalization expenses of various types subject to a maximum of Rs. 15,000 - Rs. 5,00,000, as on March 31, 2007. This limit depends upon the sum chosen by the insured at the inception of the policy.

Life Insurance Corporation came out with a special ‘Nav Prabhat’ scheme in 2001 for senior citizens. It provides for risk cover at a comparatively low cost and relief for disability arising due to accident or illness. It also has an option for life pension after maturity of the policy.


Senior citizens and retired personnel who have worked in Central Government bodies are assured of their health care needs through the Central Government Health Scheme or CGHS. This scheme for pensioners provides medical assistance to retired central government officials along with their dependents, freedom fighters and widows of government officials. The CGHS Scheme also covers Delhi police personnel, retired judges of the Supreme Court, Parliament secretaries and their families.

Moreover, along with Ex-Governors and Ex-Vice Presidents of India, accredited journalists are also eligible to be covered under the Central Government’s Health Scheme. The Central Government Health Scheme initially started functioning in Delhi. After a few years, it spread to cities such as Allahabad, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Jaipur and Patna.


The Central Government Health Scheme offers health services through Allopathic and Homeopathic systems as well as through traditional Indian forms of medicine such as Ayurveda, Unani, Yoga and Siddha. These medical facilities are provided through dispensaries and polyclinics. Chief medical officers and medical officers operate these dispensaries and are responsible for the smooth functioning of the scheme.


The main components of the scheme are dispensary services including domiciliary care, specialist consultation facilities, X-ray, Electro Cardiogram (ECG), laboratory testing, hospitalization, purchase and distribution of medicines and provision of health education. Here is a list of private hospitals and diagnostic centres recognized under the Central Government Health Scheme.


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