Chronic Pulmonary Disease troubles senior citizens in Karnataka

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Published on April 25, 2021 by

Data suggests Karnataka has the highest number of older adults with COPD

By Shreya Asopa | April 22th 2021

Bengaluru: The burden of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) among senior citizens is higher in Karnataka. According to the Longitudinal Ageing Study in India (LASI), half of the adults who are above 45 in the state have restrictive lung diseases. Moreover, around 10 percent of the above 60 population have COPD. Both figures are the highest in the country.

Dr. Srilata Puru Naik, pulmonologist, said, “Elderly people having co-morbidities like uncontrolled diabetes or other infections would have complications. The recovery rate is delayed among people above 70 years of age. If the patient delays visiting the clinic, then depending upon the severity of the infection, it may lead to severe pneumonia and hamper their lungs. This can affect their morbidity and mortality.”

Dr. Narendra U, M.D, Respiratory Medicine at Bangalore Institute of Respiratory and Sleep Disorder said, “The elderly have a frail immune system, and another factor is ageing. So, there will be a decrease in their lung capacity, making them more vulnerable to different types of infections.”

The cost of treatment leads to an increase in out-of-pocket expenditure. The pandemic has also hit older adults who already had underlying conditions of lung infections. Keshav Kumar, who runs an old age home, faced challenges in terms of providing medical assistance to the elderly. He said, “We have a woman with asthma, and she required urgent medical assistance. But the hospital refused to admit her and asked us for a covid report. We were trying to explain that she is a regular asthmatic patient, and we also got the test done with negative results. Despite that, they asked us to come after three-four days.”

Sudeep Shetty, Deputy Director of Community Health, Nitte University, said, “we need to strengthen the mechanism of health insurance that restricts seniors above the age of 70 to get insured.” He also said, “Schemes like Sandhya Suraksha and Ayushman Bharat and various other policies are yet to reach the rural areas. Lack of awareness and an easy system to avail of the schemes is also an obstacle for the elderly. In infrastructure too, we have a separate pediatric department, but you won’t find any geriatric ward (healthcare department for elderly) in a general hospital.”

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