Dubai, UAE: Specialists from the Dubai Health Authority discussed today the importance of healthy ageing and proactive geriatric care for the elderly to minimize health complications and to reduce their dependence on caregivers so that they can an independent life to the best extent possible.
Geriatricians discussed several tips to achieve this during the DHA Twitter Clinic #smart_clinic.
Salwa Al Suwaidi, Director of Family Gathering Centre in Al Mamzar, which is the sole centre for the elderly in the emirate, highlighted the concept of healthy ageing and said: ” Presently the percentage of Emiratis above the age of 60 years, in the UAE is 5.2 per cent, this percentage is expected to reach 11 per cent in 2032 and 19 per cent in 2050. Life expectancy is also increasing. In the 1960s, in UAE the life expectancy was 53 years, today according to DHA statistics, average life expectancy for the elderly in Dubai is 77 years for females and 74 for males and it is higher compared to some other Middle-Eastern countries.
” Therefore proactive ageing should begin when a patient is in their mid-40s or early-50s. Nowadays, there is a test, know as H-Scan which is available at our centre and helps tabulate the functional age of the person. The functional age is more important than the biological age, because in a majority of cases the functional age is higher than the biological age due to a several factors such as stress, unhealthy lifestyle, etc.
H-Scan is a state-of-the-art computer based system that tabulates the functional age of the person. She said the machine is easy to use and within 45 minutes provides details of 12 benchmarks of ageing which are based on four parameters: cognitive, sensory, motor skills and pulmonary function.
She added: “There is a need for the middle-aged population to be aware of the concept of healthy ageing. When they come to us at an earlier age, we can evaluate their functional age and assess the current problems that they face. Early detection will ensure reducing or even reversing some of the effects of ageing. Based on the details of the report and their functional age, we tailor-make programs to slow the ageing process and maximize bodily and mental functional capabilities of the individual. This is achieved through physiotherapy, memory training, cognitive therapy and medication to treat co-morbidities that are detected during assessment.”
Dr Ahmed Foul, Senior specialist geriatrician at Rashid Hospital highlighted the need to encourage the middle-aged population to understand and adopt the concept of healthy ageing which is possible through early detection and advocated the need to visit a geriatrician as they able to holistically address all problems associated with ageing including physical, congenic, mood disorders, environmental and social issues. ” The primary aim of the geriatrician is not only to treat the condition but also to ensure functional recovery so that the patient can be as independent as possible. We also take into consideration caregiver’s stress and treat caregivers as well if needed.”
Dr Soha El Aal, geriatrician at DHA’s primary healthcare centre said: ” DHA primary healthcare centres have several specialised clinics for the elderly including geriatric clinics, memory and dementia clinic, osteoporosis clinic, rehabilitation and fall clinic to help elderly patients get specialised care.”
Dr Anood Al Shaali, geriatrician at DHA’s primary healthcare centre, added: “The geriatric clinics provide comprehensive geriatric assessment as well as vaccinations required by the elderly such as the seasonal flu vaccine and the meningococcal vaccine. The aim of this service is to encourage the elderly who do not require inpatient services to get themselves checked regularly so that they can reduce or even prevent the complications associated with ageing.”
Dr Foul added: ” While elderly patients should continue to go to a primary healthcare centre on a regular basis, but if they experience acute problem like confusion, infection, stroke, acute breathing difficulty, they should be immediately taken to the emergency department of a hospital and once stable they are referred to geriatricians in the hospital who will do comprehensively assess the patient, continue treatment of the acute condition and also discover and treat other comorbid conditions. The main concern is to bring the elderly patient to the highest potential of functional recovery to preserve his independency.”
Besides these services, in order to provide specialised support to the elderly, the Family Gathering Centre began a support group initiative in June 2013 and so far ten meetings have been held. The support group is particularly useful for caregivers, friends and family members of patients with Alzheimer’s as they can share their experience and provide much-needed emotional and social support.
Al Suwaidi said: “We encourage family and friends of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias to join this group so that we can impart education as well as support them. The group holds a meeting on the first Thursday of every month and its aim is to provide emotional, educational, and social support for family and friends of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias.”
© Press Release 2014Jul 2014