JEDDAH: As people age their need for care increases. It is not just their physical health and nutrition that need special attention they also become psychologically vulnerable and should be handled tactfully and with the utmost respect.
Many laws have been formulated for the treatment of the elderly in every country around the world and at the international level.
The number of civil society organizations specialized in the care of the elderly is also on the rise. However, a periodic review of these laws and procedures is required to do away with any shortcoming.
According to Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Statistics, a survey was conducted in 2017 to study the issues related to elderly care in the Kingdom. The findings of the survey showed the elderly constituted 4.19 percent of the total Saudi population.
The highest proportion of the elderly Saudi population was found in the Makkah region.
Almost 25. 5 percent of the elderly in Saudi Arabia have diabetes and suffer from high blood pressure. Data related to treatment costs of the elderly Saudi population showed that 79.4 percent of the treatment services were available to them and provided by the state, whereas the proportion of those who receive treatment on their own and have medical insurance is 20.6 percent.
30.9 percent of the elderly have mobility issues and need assistance in movement. In 86.5 percent cases, senior members of the family provide the necessary attention to these people and 10.5 percent hire the services of a nurse or a special caregiver.
Around 78.5 percent of the Kingdom’s senior citizens receive various services from the Ministry of Labor and Social Development.
Saudi Arabia is experiencing a steady increase in the number of elderly, which calls for a comprehensive action plan to take care of their health, psychological, physical and social needs. Here are two cases of elderly families in Jeddah, which explain what it is like to be a caregiver.
Salman Baseef, a father of four with a limited income, takes care of his mother, who suffers from diabetes, high blood pressure and a stroke in the brain.
He said: “My wife and I have taken care of my 72-year-old mom for the past three years,
“Sometimes we tend to go to private hospitals more than governmental ones, as the latter require a long waiting time and my mom’s case cannot bear to wait.
“By the end of this year, she will have the process of her medical insurance done and will be able to receive better health care in a good hospital.”
A Palestinian family, who has been living in Jeddah for the past 40 years, takes care of their 70-year-old father, Mustafa, who is suffering from heart muscle and diabetes problems.
Mustafa’s wife, Youmna Nassar, 58, said: “He has been suffering from heart disease for the last 10 years. We used to provide him with medical health care that required him to stay in hospitals for seven to 10 days until he got better.
“His stay there costs a lot. We ask his doctor what to do and how to help him in emergency situations, and we are trying to apply it at home.
“He cannot go to the bathroom himself so I help him in doing so, and that is the hardest part, but he is my dear husband and I will always be good to him.”
Mustafa’s family depends on their three sons to provide the cost of medical expenses.
Elderly care emphasizes the social and personal requirements of senior citizens who need some assistance with daily activities and health care, but who want to age with dignity.