Ageing is a process of physical, psychological and social change in multi dimensional aspects. Geriatrics is a specialty branch of medicine that focuses on health care of elderly people. It aims to promote health by preventing and treating diseases and disabilities in older adults. It differs from standard adult medicine because it focuses on the unique needs of the elderly person. The aged body is different physiologically from the younger adult body, Previous health issues and lifestyle choices produce a different constellation of diseases and symptoms in elderly people.
The cause of morbidity and mortality world over is shifting from communicable diseases, a few decades ago, to non-communicable diseases. The leading causes of mortality among aged people comprise respiratory problems, heart diseases, cancer and stroke. A significant cause of morbidity among this group is chronic inflammatory and degenerative conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, depression, psychiatric disorders, parkinson’s disease and age related urinary problems.
The biggest challenge with geriatric diseases is that in most of the cases the condition cannot be attributed to a single cause or in certain conditions of neuro-psychiatric disorders like, Senile dementia, Alzheimer’s depression, the structural cause is unknown. In such cases, the conventional medical therapy fails to come out with effective management plan and hence is severely compromised. Another challenge is lack of health-promoting agents.
Ayurveda on the other hand has interventions like Rejuvenation therapies and medicines that enhance physiological processes that influence metabolic and immunological status. Such interventions are significant in the context of geriatric care.
Ayurveda, the holistic health science has the potential for prevention of diseases by promotion of health and management of diseases occurring in old age. It has a focused branch called Rejuvenation (Rasayana) which deals with the problems related to ageing and methods to counter the same.
Geriatrics or Jarchikits! or Rasayana in Ayurveda is a unique therapeutic methodology to delay ageing and to minimize the intensity of problems occurring in this degenerative phase of one’s life.
Rasayana and Panchakarma (Rejuvenation and detoxification therapies) are normally advised during the degenerative phase, that start at around 45 yrs of age in both male and female. It recharges the whole metabolic process of the body by eliminating the toxins and by nourishing each and every cell of the body. These therapies prevent all degenerative diseases and promote health status of an individual.
Panchakarma is beneficial for preventive, curative and rejuvenative health purposes and management of various systemic diseases. It is also widely prescribed for improving the quality of life in various incurable diseases.
Besides Rasayana and Panchakarma therapies, various single and compound Ayurvedic formulations, dietary and life style guidelines, Yoga and meditation helps in the effective management of Geriatric conditions. Prevention and management of health problems could help the elderly to improve quality of life and remain self-dependant for their daily activities to maximum possible extent.
Resident doctor at Ayurveda Kenya