Older Persons’ Care

ARTH has been working to improve health and quality of life of older persons in rural-tribal areas of southern Rajasthan since 2018. Poverty, lack of education and mobility among older persons living in scattered villages make it a challenge to reach them.

The World Population Ageing Report (2019) forecasts significant growth in the population of older persons worldwide, by 2050. India and China will make major contributions due to their large populations. Our programme is informed by ground experiences in an iterative manner, so as to make a larger impact. Older persons face decline in physical and mental capacities coupled with social, economical and environmental barriers. Several suffer multiple morbidities that continue for long periods or even till the end of life. Disease specific approaches have been found to be less useful as compared to holistic, person-centred approaches. Ensuring well being and support for healthy ageing using a person-centred approach is therefore the need of the hour.

ARTH’s outreach to older persons in a population of 10,00,000 in 8 blocks in southern Rajasthan

  • ARTH’s clinics and tent-based village camps (staffed by doctor and camp counselor) offer clinical assessment and primary care
  • Those requiring specialist care are referred to the District Hospital, at times accompanied by a Helpline Worker who helps them navigate investigations and specialist clinics
  • ARTH’s field staff conduct household visits in villages and identify people with any form of illness and refer them to either ARTH’s camp or other nearby healthcare facilities.
  • Community support groups for older persons known as the Buzurg Milan Samooh have been created with the aim of helping people combat loneliness and increase their social engagement

In 2020, ARTH introduced the WHO Integrated Care of Older Persons (ICOPE) protocol in its area

The ICOPE approach focuses on functional abilities of an older person and designing a care plan for the person as a whole

  • It emphasizes utilizing intrinsic capacities (including cognition, mobility, nutrition, mood, vision, and hearing) and overcoming or negotiating environmental limitations to improve quality of life
  • ICOPE aims to improve well-being and promote activities for healthy ageing

Going forward

  • We are using the ICOPE approach, working with older persons’ intrinsic capacities to enhance their quality of life, while also addressing morbidities
  • Through our health camps, we are planning to provide continued care for persons with chronic diseases in rural areas, which will include follow-up treatments and referrals to health facilities if needed
  • We are also planning to strengthen the Buzurg Milan Samooh, which we hope will help older persons be more socially active while also improving their health seeking behaviours.
We are refining a model of care to enable healthy ageing among vulnerable sections of the community, and are confident that robust primary care interventions to improve the health of older persons can help inform national and state policies as well as programmes.