AGEING AND CURRENT SCENARIO
Ageing is a series of processes that begin with life and continue throughout the life cycle. An individual’s life is normally divided into five stages, namely: infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood and old age. In each of these stages, the individual finds himself in different situations and faces different problems. Old age is viewed as an unavoidable and undesirable phase of life. It represents the time when an individual looks back on life, lives on past accomplishments and begins to finish off his life course.
As individuals grow older, they face numerous physical, psychological and social role changes that challenge their sense of self and capacity to live happily. Old age can be happy and winsome or empty and sad — depending largely on the faith, grace of the person involved and care and concern of the family members.
Traditionally, the family has been the primary source of care and material support for the older adults throughout Asia. And, the Indian family system is often held at high position for its qualities like support, strength, duty, love, and care of the elderly. The responsibility of the children for their parents′ well-being is not only recognized morally and socially in the country, but it is a part of the legal code in many states in India. But urbanization, modernization, industrialization, and globalization have brought major transformations in the family in the form of structural and functional changes. As a result of these socio-demographic changes, older adults at times are forced to shift from their own place to some institutions/old age homes making them more vulnerable to health-related problems including mental health problems.
MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES
The psychiatric syndromes, the elderly might encounter are divided into two categories. The Chronic brain syndromes include Alzheimer’s disease, multi-infarct dementia, and dementia from other causes. The Functional psychiatric disorders are depression, mania, late paraphrenia and personality disorder. The cause of functional disorders is unknown. They are probably the product of psychological and genetic influences affecting the subtler aspects of cerebral physiology.
The most common cognitive health issue faced by elderly is dementia. Dementia is characterised by symptoms like poor memory, intolerance of change, disorientation, insomnia, failure of judgment,
gradual formation of delusion and hallucinations, extreme agitation, severe mental clouding in which the individual becomes restless, combative, resistive and incoherent. Forgetfulness is one of the main psychological problems, general intelligence and independent creative thinking are also usually affected.
Decline in mental ability makes the elderly dependent. They no longer have trust in their own ability or judgments but still they want to tighten their grip over the younger ones. They want to get involved in all family matters and business issues. Due to generation gap the youngsters do not pay attention to their suggestion and advice. Instead of developing a sympathetic attitude towards the old, they start asserting their rights and power. This may create a feeling of deprivation of their dignity and importance.
Their social life is narrowed down by loss of work associated, death of relatives, friends and spouse and weak health which restricts their participation in social activities. The home becomes the center of their social life which gets confined to the interpersonal relationship with the family members. Due to loss of most of the social roles they once performed, they are likely to be lonely, ignored, isolated and depressed. The negligence and indifferent attitude of the family members towards the older people creates more emotional problems.
A common mental disorder among seniors is depression. Unfortunately, this mental disorder is often underdiagnosed and undertreated because, depression can also be a side effect of chronic health conditions and vice-versa can effect physical health and ability to function.
An older person in good physical health has a relatively low risk of depression. Physical health is indeed the major cause of depression in late life. There are many reasons for this, which include the psychological effects of living with an illness and disability, the effects of chronic pain; the biological effects of some conditions and medications that can cause depression through direct effects on the brain, caring for a spouse with dementia or a physical disability, grieving the death of loved ones, and managing conflict with family members and the social restrictions that some illnesses place upon older people’s life style resulting in isolation and loneliness.
In many cases, depressive symptoms such as withdrawal, anxiety, lack of motivation and sadness mimic and mask the symptoms of loneliness.
Adjusting to the changes that accompany old age requires that an individual is flexible and develops new coping skills to adapt to the changes that are common during this time.
Treating or managing the physical conditions can help improve the mental health issues. Additionally, promoting a lifestyle of healthy living such as betterment of living conditions and social support from family, friends or support groups results in decreased emotional suffering, improved physical health, lessened disability, and a better quality of life for older adults and their families.
Counselling play a significant role in addressing the mental health needs and supporting the strengths of our growing population of older adults.
ROLE OF HOMOEOPATHY
Along with the caring behavior and counselling required to support the elderly, there are various wonderful homoeopathic medicines which can be of immense help in reducing the mental sufferings of the old age.
Following are some of the useful rubrics which can be considered while attending to the mental health issues of the seniors-
- Mind- Ailments from – disappointment – old – NAT M.
- Mind – Confusion of mind – old age, in – arg met., Arg n., Bar c., Con.
- Mind – Dullness – old people, of – abel.,Abies n., AMBR., Arg met., Arg n., BAR C., Con., Lyco., PLB.
- Mind – Forgetful – old people, of – am c., Ambr., anac., Bar c., coff., Con., Crot h., lach., Lyco., Ph ac., rhus t., sulph.
- Mind – Forsaken feeling – old people, in – aur.,psor.
- Mind – Insanity, madness – old people, in –anac., Auri., bar act., Bar c., bell., calc p., con., ign., nati., nat m., nux v., Phos., , sep., sulph.
- Mind – Loathing – general loathing – old age, in – aur., calc
- Mind – Moaning – old age, in – c.
- Mind – Prostration of mind – old age, in – BAR-C.
- Mind – Sadness – old age, in –Aur.,esp-g.
- Mind – Sighing – old people-
- Mind – Stupor – old age, in — c.
- Mind – Weary, of life – old age, in – Ars.,aur., calc.
- Mind – Confusion, mental – old age, in – c., Con., Kali br.
- Mind- Depression, sadness – old age, in – Aur.,esp-g.
- Mind – Moaning, groaning – old age, in – c.
- Mind – Weary, of life – old age, in – aur., calc.
- Mind – Confusion of mind – old people, in –arg. met., arg. n., C., CON.
- Mind – Dementia – old people, in – aeth.,, AM. C., ANAC., ant. c., arg. met., ARG. N. ars.,AUR., AUR. I., aza.,BAPT., bell., bry., calc. p., cann. i., coca, CON., CROT. H., fl. ac., glyc.,HYOS., ign., iod., LACH., lil. t., LYCO., nat. i., nat. m., nux, v., op., orch., OV., PHOS., plb., puls., sec., sep., sulph., thiosin.
- Mind – Dullness, sluggishness, difficulty of thinking and comprehending – old people – AMBR., BAR. C., CON., LYCO., PLB.
- Mind – Forgetfulness – old people, in – am. c., AMBR.,anac., C., coff.,CON., CROT. H., lach.,LYCO., PH AC., rhus t., sulph.
- Mind – Forsaken feeling – old people, in – aur.,psor.
- Mind – Insanity, madness – old people, in – anac., I., bar. act.,BAR. C., calc p., con., nati., PHOS., sec.
- Mind – Loathing – life, of – old people, in – aur., calc.
- Mind – Moaning, groaning – old people, in – BARC.
- Mind – Sadness, despondency, depression, melancholy – people, in old – AUR., esp. g.,
- Mind – Stupor – old age, in – C.
- Mind – Weary of life – old people, in – aur., calc.
- Mind – Weeping, tearful mood – general – old people for nothing –
Indications of some important medicines which might find their use in alleviating the psychological sufferings during the old age-
- Barytacarb.:Deficient memory. Want of self-confidence. Anxious inquietude about domestic affairs1
Loss of memory, mental weakness.Senile dementia. Confusion2
- Conium mac.: Hysterical anguish, with sadness and great inclination to weep. Want of mental energy. Weakness of the intellectual faculties, and of the memory. 1
Depressed, timid, averse to society, and afraid of being alone.Memory weak; unable to sustain any mental effort.2
- Aurum met.: Melancholy, with inquietude and desire to die. Imagines he has lost the affection of his friends, this makes him weep.Weakness of memory.1
Feeling of self-condemnation and utter worthlessness. Profound despondency2
- Lycopodium: Silent, melancholy, and peevish humor, despair of eternal salvation. Desponding, grieving mood. Stupefaction. Dullness.1
Pre-senility. Melancholy; afraid to be alone. Extremely sensitive.Weak memory, confused thoughts. 2
- Anacardium: Hypochondriacal sadness, and melancholy ideas. Anxiety, apprehension, and fear of approaching death. Weakness of mind and of memory. Soon forgets everything, consciousness of forgetfulness takes away appetite. 1
Impaired memory, depression, and irritability; diminution of senses. 2
- Calcareacarb.:Melancholy, dejection, and sadness. Disposition to weep, even about trifles. Discouragement and fear of death.Solitude is insupportable. Great weakness of memory, with difficulty in thinking. 1
Forgetful, confused, low-spirited. Anxiety with palpitation. 2
- Ambragrisea: Memory impaired. Slow of comprehension. Melancholy. Inconsolable sadness. Despair, and disgust of life. 1
Despair, loathing of life.Thinking, difficult in the morning with old people. Dwells upon unpleasant things.2
8.Argentum nit.:Time seems to pass very slowly. Profound melancholy, imagines if left alone will die. Mental operations sluggish; memory impaired.1
Want of balance everywhere, mentally and physically; trembling in affected parts. Prematurely aged look. Thinks his understanding will and must fail2
9.Crotalus hor.: Memory weak,cannot express himself. Sadness, thoughts dwell on death continually.1
Old age nutritional troubles.Weeping mood; clouded perception and memory2
10.Phosphorus: Melancholy, sometimes with violent weeping. Hypochondriacal sadness. Disgust to life. Great forgetfulness, especially in morning. 1Great lowness of spirits.Loss of memory.Dread of death when alone.2
11.Plumbum met.: Silent melancholy and dejection. Discouragement. Weariness of life. Weakness or loss of memory.1Mental depression.Paretic dementia. 2
Previously published in Homoeo Miracle
This article written by-
Dr Sakshi Gupta
BHMS(NHMC, Delhi) MAPC (Clinical Psychology, Delhi)
Ex- R&D Officer, SBL Pvt Ltd
Executive Member, Delhi Homoeopathic Medical Association
Administrative member, Homoeopathy World Community, USA