SRINAGAR: Doctors at Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital are facing a serious ethical issue these days—how to take care of elderly patients left alone by families as they come to the health facility every day without any help.
According to officials, SMHS hospital receives two to three elderly patients daily who are without attendants and help.
“Five such patients have been treated in the hospital this week. They were alone and could barely walk due to weakness. We provided them help till they went back to home,” a physician told Kashmir Reader.
He said the patients were in unstable condition with multiple disorders including hypertension, diabetes and general weakness. Two of them have been diagnosed with dementia and depression as well.
“We tried to find their families but failed until evening. Later we sent them to SMHS Hospital’s ‘Community Center’ for day-care,” said the doctor.
In the evening, doctors said, all the patients were sent to the home after treatment. However, two of them keep coming to the Center on a daily basis due to their medical condition, as per psychiatrists.
Both of them are in the 70s and were diagnosed with multiple ailments including depression, hypertension, and dementia while one of them belongs to a well-off family in Safa Kadal.
“They come to the Community Center of Psychiatry department every day. They are suffering from multiple complaints including depression and dementia. They need immediate admission but we couldn’t admit them as there was no one with them from their families to take their responsibility,”,” Dr Arshad Hussain, a senior psychiatrist at Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar told Kashmir Reader.
“These are clear cases of elderly neglect which is coming as a new menace in our society,” he said.
Head Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Dr Muhammad Salim Khan said this was a new challenge for the Medical College and its associated hospitals especially SMHS Hospital.
“We see such patients on daily basis but unfortunately we are not able to do anything for them as there is no institutional support system for such people,” he said.
Dr Khan said he had proposed a separate unit for them in SMHS hospital so that they don’t face any problem while getting treatment.
“We may do something for them so that they should be assisted properly while treated at the hospital,” he said.
Principal GMC Srinagar, Dr Samia Rashid said they were planning to start a separate Geriatric Department for them.
“As of now, we are helpless as there is no such mechanism in place. Families have to take care of them otherwise it an extra burden on hospitals,” she said.