Elderly care in UAE needs attention, expert says
DUBAI // Care for the elderly needs to be improved and unified across the UAE, a leading expert in geriatric care says.
Dr Salwa Al Suwaidi, director of geriatrics at Dubai Health Authority, said there were many services offered in the emirate, but no extensive range elsewhere in the country.
The DHA’s offerings include geriatric clinics, clinics for osteoporosis, fall and rehabilitation services, geriatric units in acute hospital, a nursing home and home healthcare programmes.
The lack of services is especially evident in Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah, Dr Al Suwaidi said.
Different bodies govern different services in each of the seven emirates, leading to a disjointed and unequal service, she said.
“We don’t have equal service delivery in the seven emirates. Some emirates have everything. Some have none.”
This problem is only going to worsen with an ageing population, Dr Al Suwaidi said at the Arab Health summit.
“We need more day care centres, more rehab services, and knowledge and awareness that we can age healthily,” she said.
Dr Al Suwaidi said she had come across patients in their 60s who did not want rehabilitation.
“They think they are elderly and it is a normal consequence of ageing to be in bed. They won’t be active and take part in physiotherapy. This is what I hate.
“People should be aware that since the life expectancy is getting longer we are expecting people to live longer and they should expect good quality of life.”
Dr Al Suwaidi said her father, 82, recently cracked his femur.
“The doctor said he could operate if my father wants to walk again. Of course he wants to walk again.”
In a speech at the summit Hibah Osman, medical and executive director at Balsam — Lebanese Centre for Palliative Care, said the concept of treatment to the elderly and ill was still not fully understood here.
“Palliative care saves costs to the healthcare system because getting care at home, which patients often choose, is generally cheaper,” said Ms Osman.
“Giving them the option not to choose having expensive surgery, which can be useless, or not spending months and months in an ICU is cheaper. But those are hidden savings that unless you go looking you do not see.”
Last year, the World Health Organisation called on all countries to integrate palliative care into their systems.
It said only one in 10 people who need palliative care, including those with cancer or progressive illnesses, receive it.
Updated: January 27, 2015 04:00 AM