Chronic Mental Illness in Old Age Homes: An International Perspective

Chronic Mental Illness in Old Age Homes: An International Perspective

Shamsi Akbar (King George Medical University – Lucknow, India) and Hitesh Khurana (Pt. B. D. Sharma PGIMS, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0519-8.ch002
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Abstract

Aging is a part of natural developmental process in the life of any living being. For human beings it is not just a biological phenomenon but it has psychological and social implications too. Some of the areas that would be affected include those related to health and health care, family composition, living arrangement, housing and migration. As a result of these socio-demographic evolutions and situations, older adults at times are forced to shift from their own homes to institutions/ Old age homes OAH. Living in OAH evokes a picture of apathy, dependence, and sadness which make the older adults increasingly vulnerable to mental health problems. Further there is also a strong need to develop suitable strategies to implement better mental health programmes and guidelines for the CMI in old age homes.
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Introduction

This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. (Winston. S. Churchill)

Aging can generally be described as the process of growing old and is an intricate part of the life cycle. As Shakespeare had put, “Old age is last scene of all that ends this strange eventful history, is second childishness and mere oblivion, sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.” Basically it is a multi-dimensional process and affects almost every aspect of human life. Old age means reduced physical ability, declining mental ability, the gradual giving up of role playing in socio-economic activities, and a shift in economic status moving from economic independence to economic dependence upon others for support. Old age is called “dark” not because the light fails to shine but because people refuse to see it (Gowri, 2003). Aging is a part of natural developmental process in the life of any living being. For human beings it is not just a biological phenomenon but it has psychological and social implications too. With improved economic status and health care facilities, the number of people living beyond age 60 years is rapidly increasing. Various authors define old age starting between 55 to 65 years age in different countries and cultures. However, most of the authors agree upon 65 years and above age as cut off for defining old age (Kinsella & Phillips, 2005). For various welfare issues individuals above age 60 years are considered to be in old age in India (Zachariah, Mathew, & Irudaya, 2000). In developing countries majority of older people still live in rural areas where they are much respected as a wise family member. However, the situation is much changing due to industrialization leading to more migration and disintegration of joint families. With changing economy, social values and support system has also considerably changed. In the traditional societies elderly were highly respected as family members and source of wisdom. But the younger generation now considers elderly people largely unwanted. The elderly people occupy economically lower social status and economically weaker, However, they are less receptive to accept the natural process of growing weaker (Pesic, 2007). Biologically too, old age is characterized by disease disability and dependency. With such vulnerabilities and changing social structure and values, the generation gap is widening and problems of old age are becoming difficult to manage.

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