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KATHMANDU: Senior citizens residing at the government-run old-age home near the Pashupatinath Temple are facing difficulties due to a shortage of caregivers.
A total of 230 senior citizens — 125 females and 105 males — are living there. Thirty-two of them are differently-abled.
Mohan Kumar Basnet, chief of the old-age home, which is under the Social Welfare Council, says, “The centre does not have enough caregivers for the elders. Volunteers providing help are having a hard time because they are spread too thin.”

“We have not written to the ministry, but have made verbal requests to it to provide caregivers,” he says referring to the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare.
Though the center is supposed to have 21 government employees to look after senior citizens, it currently has 15 government staff — three office staff, a nurse, five kitchen staff, three kitchen helpers, two sweepers and a health assistant from the Kathmandu district public health office. Ace Travels has provided five sanitation workers to the old-age facility.

“We have not received any written application from the old-age home demanding staffers, though they have made verbal requests for the same. We have entertained the request and will provide caregivers by the next fiscal if the ministry approves it,” an official says.
For appointment of staffers at the old-age facility, the SWC has to submit an application to the social welfare ministry requesting it to conduct a survey.

After receiving the application, the Ministry of Finance and the social welfare ministry conduct the survey and forward its findings to the Ministry of General Administration, which in turn appoints the staffers. The finance ministry releases the budget after that.
This year, the government has provided Rs 115 million to the center. A staffer at the facility says the government-allocated annual budget is enough to purchase daily commodities and pay salary to staffers. The facility faces cash crunch during medical emergencies, the staffer says.

“We do not go for donation campaigns and do not accept cash donations. Money put in donation boxes is used to foot the medical bill. Whenever elders are admitted to hospitals, we ask hospital authorities for support.”

Source: The Himalayan Times, (January 9th, 2014)

Compiled by: Janu Rai


Kathmandu, October 10

World Mental Health Day was celebrated with the slogan ‘Mental health and senior citizens’ across the country today.
On the occasion, Nepal Mental Health Network organised awareness campaigns, rallies and free health camp. GopalDhakal, General Secretary of Nepal Psychologist Association said, “We focused on senior citizens this year.”

He further said, “A health camp was conducted for senior citizens at Pashupati Old Age Home. Most of them were found suffering from memory disorders and depression. Their self-esteem was very low. They were counselled and provided psychotherapy.”

A free health camp was also organised in Pashupati area and Kirtipur. Eighty persons benefited from the free health camp in pashupati and forty in Kritipur. Most of them were long term anxiety and depression patients. He further said, “There hasn’t been much progress in the field of psychiatric medication in Nepal. The policies developed are not implemented yet.”

Mental problem is a big challenge worldwide. According to World Health Organization, 450 million people are suffering from mental disorders. In Nepal, more than 5 million people are suffering from some or the other mental condition and out of five mental condition, only one has access to treatment.

Source: The Himalayan Times (11th October, 2013)
Compiled by: Suman Thapa

Last week a report on the ageing people ranked Nepal 77th among 91 countries, indicating it as one of the worst places to grow old.

The Global Age Watch Index, the first of its kind, which claimed to have covered 89 percent of the population above 60 years of age worldwide, showed that Nepal is yet to improve its services in health care in order to create a suitable environment for old people.

The survey, conducted by HelpAge International, an INGO, and supported by the United Nations Population Fund, puts Sweden as the best place for ageing people followed by Norway, Germany, Netherlands and Canada. The United States of America got eighth position while India holds 73rd rank.

Afghanistan, the survey shows, is the worst place for older people. The survey looked into 13 indicators in the four domains: income security, health status, employment and education, and enabling environment. Among the indicators, pension income coverage, poverty rate in old age, relative welfare of older people and GDP per capita are looked into income security while life expectancy at 60, healthy life expectancy at 60 and psychological wellbeing are under health status. Similarly, employment of older people and their education status are looked into while social connections, physical safety, civic freedom and access to public transport were kept in mind under the enabling environment.

We can break down these numbers and view them in terms of programmes aimed at the elderly population. In terms of government services, the retirement age in Nepal differs from profession to profession—58 years for civil service holders, 60 for teachers, maximum of 65 for judges, among others. Then they are eligible for pension.

For those who are not pensioners, they are eligible for state allowances. The government provides Rs 500 per month for people who are above 70 years while the age bar is 60 for old people in Karnali and the Dalits.

“Studies on old age and the security system carried out so far show that living standards often decline for people at old age. Reduced economic opportunities and deteriorating health status frequently increase their risk of vulnerability to poverty as people age,” a 2012 report on Assessment of Social Security Allowance Programme in Nepal reads. “The absence of resources or income sources increases the risk of individuals, households and communities falling below the poverty line due to insufficient consumption and access to basic services. For those who are already below the poverty line, the absence of an income source increases the risk to remain in or to fall further into poverty.”

However, this scheme has been frequently criticised for lacking transparency in the fund distribution. “The allowances have been a great relief to the people. But how many of them are benefiting remains largely unknown,” said Krishna Murari Gautam, chairman of Ageing Nepal, an NGO working for the rights of old people.

Gautam said 21 cases of hurdles in allowance distribution were reported in 2012, which is just a tip of the iceberg. Among the reports, many dealt with the VDC secretary forging signatures of the elderly to pocket their allowances.

This programme was introduced in 1995 as a political agenda to buy votes. This was widely popular and was hence continued. The sum of money has also increased from Rs 100 to Rs 500 over the years. The scheme was widely misused during the insurgency period when the VDC secretaries, who are responsible for the allowance distribution, were never present in the localities.

“Despite problems in implementation, our social security scheme of providing old age allowances has been received well by the international community as it is universal for people above age 70,” said Sangita Niroula, country director of HelpAge International Nepal.

In terms of health care, the government has recently initiated geriatric care centres at the hospitals. This, however, is yet to be effective. Surya Prasad Shrestha, under-secretary at the Ministry of Women Children and Social Welfare, accepted that these centres have not been much effective.

“But the initiation is for a noble cause and we are also new in the area,” said Shrestha. He said that they have been slowly piloting the establishment of day care centres and studying land right issues.

According to the National Population and Housing Census (2011), there are 2,154,410 senior citizens who are above 60 in the country. They make eight percent of the population.

 Source:  The Kathmandu Post (Nepal) October 8th, 2013

Compiled by : Manisha Shrestha



Chitwan, Bhadra 18,

The elderly Bhujel couple, 89-year-old Pabahadur Bhujel and his wife 79-year-old Belimaya, of Dhading, Taparsu, finds it hard to forget about the cave they lived in and still reminisces about the past. They now think of their belongings that they left in the cave before coming to reside in Divyasewa Niketan at Churiyamai-3, Ratomate, Makwanpur. Pabahadur said, “There were oil, spices, salt, some rice and maize and wheat flour in the cave,” and wished to go to the cave to observe the cave as well as bring in their belongings.

After living a lonely life in cave because of poverty, they are now friends with other elderly in the old age home; Bhawanath Pandey, Masinimaya Shrestha, Saraswati Niraula and Tilrupa Gautam. There are other two elderly Lamas there in the ashram. Smoking is prohibited in the ashram; therefore, they want to visit the cave for to quench their thirst of smoking too. “They give us sweets instead of cigarettes,” said Belimaya with chocolate in her hands, “how can this replace the addiction of cigarettes.”

The cave they lived in before was quite open and unsafe. “We have beds and life is more easy and comfortable here; however, we still love the care,” Belimaya said. She continued, “It is hard to forget the place that gave us shelter when we had no place to go.”

They ended up living in the cave of Dhading, Dhaireni, after becoming homeless two years ago. “Someone from our own village bought our land but did not give us a penny,” Pabahadur said, “and we became homeless.”

They do not have to beg for food here in ashram as opposed to when living in the cave. Fulmaya Basnet, another elderly in the ashram cooks for everyone there.  Mina Waiba who also looks after the ashram helps everyone out there.

The couple, who had found shelter in the cave after they had nowhere to go, was rescued by Buddhiprasad Regmi of Kathmandu and retired Gurkha, Purnabahadur Gurung, on Bhadra 7, and was rehabilitated at Divyasewa Niketan located in Ratomate, Makwanpur.

The ashram is under construction with an aim to provide shelter to 200 elderly. There are nine elderly now along with the Bhujel couple. The ashram, in the midst of the jungle, is under construction with well facilitated building, hall and hospital according to the Director, Tejram Niraula. After working as an army engineer all his life, he now wants to dedicate his life in social service.

Belimaya, the ninth wife.

It has not been long since Pabahadur and Belimaya met each other.  After the death of her husband, it was hard for Belimaya to meet ends while her three children were busy in their own lives. She had to beg for food after not being able to live with them. On the other hand, Pabahadur, still childless even after marrying eight wives, was working alone in mill. “I had soft corner for her when she asked for food every day.” When his Sahu suggested him to live together with her since both of them were alone, he heeded his Sahu’s words, sold his house so as to eat good food as he had no children. Sadly, he got no money out of it.” He further added that he was not given any money telling that the loan taken by his father got nil now. For Belimaya, Pabahadur holds a place higher than the stone god. However, Pabahadur’s favorite is Bishnumaya out of all nine wives. “The first marriage happened when I was still a child. I was unaware about what marriage was and hence it did not work out.” He said, “I married Bishnumaya after liking her. She passed away after 15 years of marriage without bearing any child.” “After that, I married six wives but no one lived more than a year or two.”

Source: Nagarik Daily , September 04, 2013.
Translated by: Janu Rai 


Alzheimer's - an increasing problem.

Alzheimer’s – an increasing problem.

Scientists in the US have made a significant breakthrough in discovering what triggers age-related memory loss – possibly leading to new treatments for the condition.

The findings show that age-related memory loss is a different condition to pre-Alzheimer’s and could one day be treatable.

Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center examined the brains of people of varying ages, who had passed away with no indication of neurologic disease.

It was found that a specific gene in a part of the brain’s memory centre does not function effectively in older people, as it doesn’t create enough of an important protein, RbAp48.

This area of the brain, the dentate gyrus, had already been considered particularly susceptible to ageing, although it is a different neural section to the one in which Alzheimer’s forms.

The researchers tested the theory that a lack of RbAp48 leads to memory loss by studying mice, which also become forgetful in later life.

The scientists discovered that reducing levels of the protein in healthy young mice caused them to get lost in mazes and perform poorly in other memory tests, in the same way old mice do.

Importantly, they found the memory loss was reversible by giving the mice more of the protein.

Nobel laureate and study leader Dr Eric Kandel said ‘it is the best evidence so far’ that age-related memory loss is not comparable to early Alzheimer’s.

Columbia neurologist and study author Dr Scott Small added: ‘As we want to live longer and stay engaged in a cognitively complex world, I think even mild age-related memory decline is meaningful.

‘It opens up a whole avenue of investigation to now try to identify interventions.’

Age UK charity director general Michelle Mitchell said the charity welcomed the distinction between age-related cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease.

‘A better understanding about how our cognitive abilities change as we get older is vital in order to ensure that people get the best advice and where available treatments. The key now is to find out more about why these changes occur and develop appropriate interventions,’ she said.

‘Age UK funds research at the University of Edinburgh called  The Disconnected Mind project, which aims to establish the key factors that affect how well or poorly people’s thinking skills change as they age.

‘The findings will be used to inform health and social care policy, provide advice on the mental health of older people and help to improve the diagnosis and treatment of age-related cognitive decline.’

Source: Press Association/Age UK


An infographic on Elderly Nursing Care in America by the Nursing School Hub.

Golden Years
Source: Nursing School Hub
Direct Link:

Celebrating her 115th

Celebrating her 115th

Source: Himalayan News Service, March 6th, 2013

Kathmandu, February 11

The Ministry of Health and Population is providing 50 per cent waiver on treatment fee for elderly people at regional hospitals from this fiscal.

The provision will be implemented immediately after the ministry completes revising guidelines for establishment of geriatric wards, said Anil Thapa, focal person for geriatric issues at the Population Division of the Ministry.

Although the ministry had finalized the draft of the guidelines last June, it was yet to be implemented due to the apex court’s decision.

Revision of the guidelines follows the Supreme Court decision to implement the provision of waiving 50 per cent treatment fee for elderly people. Elderly citizens will get free OPD services and free indoor services till a maximum of Rs 6,000.

The division has prepared guidelines to operate the geriatric wards that the government is establishing at Patan Hospital, National Ayurvedic Training and Research Centre in Kirtipur and Bharatpur hospital. Ten beds have been kept aside for geriatric patients at these hospitals.

According to the census of 2011, the elderly population constitutes 8.14 per cent of the total population of the country. Life span has increased due to easy access to health facilities, but elderly people suffer from various diseases and health institutions lack full-fledged service for elderly people, he added.

Source: Himalayan News Service, February 12, 2013

Image credit: Himalayan News Service

SOLUKHUMBU: One cataract surgery has changed the life of 70-yearold Tilamaya Bishwokarma of Patle VDC, Okhaldhunga on Monday.

Suffering from cataract, Tilamaya had lost her eye sight 16 months ago. After successful operation at a free eye camp organised at the Solu Hospital in Phaplu, she was elated and thanked God to have her eyesight back.

The free eye camp, organised in Phalpu from Sunday on the eve of the World Sight Day, is expected to benefit hundreds of people.

“I never thought that I would see this day,” said Tilamaya, shedding tears of happiness.

“We could not take her far due to financial problem, but this time we had somehow managed to carry her to Phaplu,” Tilamaya’s eldest son Kaji (51) said.

Like Tilamaya, Harkamaya Nepali, of Jubu, Solukhumbu had no bound for her happiness following treatment at the eye camp.

The two-day free eye camp is jointly organised by the Kathmandu-based Tilganga Eye Hospital, District Community Eye Centre, Solu Hospital, Nepal Red Cross Society and Himalayan Health and Environment Services, Phaplu, with the assistance of Himalayan Cataract Project since Sunday.

A total of 953 persons of Solukhumbu, Okhaldhunga and Khotang had their eyes operated at the camp, informed District Community Eye Centre Phaplu chief Pushpababu Basnet.

Source: Himalayan News Service, October 8, 2012

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