Creating Waves of Awareness
As we age, health problems increase at a stupendous rate. With the advancing age, several kinds of physiological changes take place in the elderly. The stamina gets diminished, endurance becomes poor and deference inadequate. All the body systems age, resulting in the impairment of their functions. Our pulmonary function, cardiac output, liver function, and kidney function all diminish, by age 70 to, about 50% of that observed at age 25. A professor & Head of department from a highly reputed Post Graduate Medical Institute at Chandigarh wrote in an article about medical complications involved in elderly patients. He says, “One of the major issues concerning the management of medical problems at the old age is the difficulty in making a diagnosis. The disease presentation is mostly atypical and is complicated by the presence of multiple abnormalities. The risks of diagnostic tests, many of which are likely to be invasive, pose further limitations. The treatment that modern medicine offers is often palliative. The disease management poses problems because of increased drug toxicity, poor tolerance and compromised functions of other systems. Such measures frequently end in prolonging the misery, rather than offering relief’. Thus as we grow old and eventually suffer from chronic ailments, we will only be adding years to life but not life to the years At the fag end of their lives, most of the senior citizens find themselves in dire financial straits. They can ill afford to get a satisfactory medical treatment. Modern allopathic treatment is now beyond the reach of 80 to 90 % of general population because of the ever increasing costs. The whole medical sector has gone high-tech with the adoption of state-of-the-art- technology associated with highly sophisticated diagnostic, clinical and condition-monitoring ghizmos.
In such a depressing scenario, it is the homoeopathic treatment which provides a viable alternative besides being more efficacious, economical, safe and free from any detrimental side-effects. In the ailing elderly persons, more important than physical changes, are the psychological alterations necessitating psychiatrical consultations. The amalgamation of psychiatry and homoeopathy has been aptly described by a Spanish author, Fernando Risquez. Says he, “Parcelsus, Hahnemann and Freud emphasized that what is important is to know the patient’s body, soul and spirit, not an erudite description of diseases and this is where psychiatry and homoeopathy meet” Most of the old persons develop a kind of despondence in them, leading to a state of depression. A feeling of uselessness creeps in some of them. Some even refuse to take medical treatment losing hope in its utility. Homoeopathy provides a definite opportunity to all such patients to regain mental and physical well-being. Synthetic Repertory Vol. 1, abounds in all types of psychic symptoms. Prescribing conscientiously on these lines including all the mental and physical symptoms to comprise a totality, can really work wonders in alleviating the sufferings of those who had lost all hope of recovery.
Homoeo-psychotherapy, an innovative technique by Dr. Rajan Sankaran, can as well be gainfully employed in curing old age psychic and idiosyncratic cases. It is a unique way of giving the patient a ‘similar stimulus’ through words and images rather than giving any medicine. The idea is to provide a similar state through appropriate dialogue to trigger a curative action. A homoeo-psychotherapist tries to ascertain the feelings of a patient, as to what is it, that he seeks to regain to feel normal. And the patient is made to realize gradually that the frustration (delusion) he acquired is in response to his perception of a reality which in fact, is far too exaggerated. It is like a man being chased by a lion, but actually it is only a dog chasing him. Exposure to such an image, itself creates a state which is similar to the one, the patient is already in. Such an experience proves as selective as the therapeutic remedy for the simple reason that it amounts to administering a simillimum through word image. Subsequently this treatment may have to be supplemented with an appropriately indicated homoeopathic medicine to accomplish a permanent cure.
Generally any homeopathic remedy can be found indicated to any age group of patients; however one can still find traits in a remedy more suited to a. person in his twilight years. An illustrative list of some of these remedies with very brief symptoms against each, is given below
Ambra grisea A great remedy for the aged, with impairment of all functions, including weakness, coldness and numbness, usually of single parts. One sided complaints. Aggravation from music. Dread of people, desire to be alone. Despair, loathing of life. Time passes slowly, dwells upon unpleasant things, slow comprehension.
Alumen adapted to old people, especially those suffering from bronchial catarrhs. Mental paresis. Tendency to induration of inflamed surfaces, often related to cancerous affections. Unpleasant news causes nervous tremors. Palpitation and anxious dreams while lying on right side. Most obstinate constipation, hemorrhage from bowels. Most complaints come on during sleep.
Baryta carbonica: Prominently indicated in old age diseases (as also in infancy) when degenerative changes begin, especially in coats of arteries, aneurysm, senility. Hypertrophied prostate, or indurated testes. Affects glandular structures. Loss of memory, mental weakness. Loss of self-confidence. Senile dementia, bashful, irresolute. Aversion to strangers, grief over trifles. Worse while thinking of ailments. Very sensitive to cold.
Conium: It is indicated in a conspicuous condition often found in old age such as difficult gait, trembling, sudden loss of strength while walking. Ascending paralysis, leading to failure of respiration and death. It is a remedy rendered classical by Plato’s graphic description of its employment in the death of Socrates. Mental symptoms include: Excitement causing mental depression, timidness, aversion to society, afraid of being alone. No inclination for business or study. Unable to sustain any mental effort.
Carbo animalis: Suited to old people who have suffered from debilitating diseases resulting in feeble circulation and lowered vitality. Glands are indurated, veins distended, skin blue, ulcerations, gangrene, decomposition. All secretions are offensive. Often in sad and reflective moods, desires to be alone, avoids conversation, anxiety at night.
Fluoricum acidum: Indicated in complaints of prematurely aged, with distended blood vessels, hob-nailed liver of alcoholics, goitre. Bed sores. Varicose veins, ulcers. The patient shows aversion to family members but talks pleasantly to others. Desires company. Mentally elated and gay.
Selenium: Manifests marked effects on genito-urinary organs, often indicated in elderly men suffering from prostates and sexual atony. Emaciation of face, thighs and hands. Hair falls from all over the body including eyebrows, whiskers and genitals. Great debility. Extreme sadness, abject despair, uncompromising melancholy.
Sulphur, Thuja, Mercurius and Tuberculinum: These remedies are prescribed according to the miasmatic and constitutional symptoms, sometimes given as intercurrent remedies during the course of regular treatment with other indicated remedies especially when well selected remedies fail to act or when presenting symptoms keep on changing, signaling a miasmatic impediment in the course of treatment.
The short list of aforementioned remedies, as I said earlier is only illustrative, there are a myriad other polychrests and deep acting remedies which can be of immense benefit to the needy depending upon an individual’s personalized requirement. What is really important in treating an elderly patient is the careful case taking and accurate prescribing.
One should appreciate and recognize the old man’s predicament as he crosses into his retirement. The cumulative effects of life time exposures to environmental, industrial and occupational hazards result in implanting complex and chronic diseases on his worn out mental and body systems. The misery gets further compounded on taking indiscriminate treatment with variegated groups of extra strong antibiotics, anti-depressants, immuno-suppressants, steroids and what not, all for inordinately long periods. All this invariably culminates in disturbing a patient’s ‘homoeostasis’ and mental equipoise, rendering his morbid condition almost incurable. Such a person can surely be extricated and helped to regain his comprehensive well being only with judicious and all-encompassing homoeopathic treatment.
Peter B Medawar, a Nobel Prize winner in medicine, tried vainly to find just one person who had died of old age. Human beings most commonly die of disease or accidents. Very few die of natural death which could be the result of progressive aging. Some people are old at 50, some are young at 70! The difference is often one of spirit. If an elderly person loses his drive, motivation and incentive, the emotional energizing condition that keeps him striving to attain, would cause decrepitude and decline in him. He thus becomes a debit member of society.
George Bernard Shaw was actively engaged in producing literature into his nineties. Nearer home, veteran journalist author historian Khushwant Singh is now 98. He wrote in his weekly column in the The Hindustan Times just the other day, “I am still earning more than I did in my younger days, people ask me how do I manage to do it. I say we have to cope with the old age, make terms with it.”
To conclude, I would like to put across a piece of advice to be rendered to all elderly patients. Try to keep your body and mind free from all ailments, with timely homoeopathic treatment. Take low fat, balanced and nutritious diet. Carry out suitable physical exercises according to your capacity, morning walks are also good. Yoga is preferable especially pranayam, involving deep breathing techniques. Enjoy your age and remember you are as old as you feel. Age gracefully.