Sri Lanka has a rapidly aging population from the Asian region which is a serious challenge in many aspects. In 2012, the population over 60 years was 2.5 million which was 12.5 percent of the total population, Consultant Physician Dr. Lasantha Ganewatta told the Daily News.
The population would increase to about 3.6 million by 2021, which is 16.7 percent of the total population according to demographic statistics. By 2041, one out of four of the population would be elderly. Therefore, this will affect greatly on the country’s economy, she said. Dr. Ganewatta said it is our moral responsibility to look after our parents. Apart from that, as doctors, it is our obligation to find a way of keeping senior citizens healthy for their betterment as well as the country. Elders’ Day could be considered as an eye-opener to address these issues and to discuss health matters to live healthy in old age, she said.
Geriatric medicine or elderly medicine refers to the health of people above 60 years. It is different to other branches of medicine and needs specialized doctors and paramedical personnel as well as appropriately equipped units, she said. “Even though we have a relatively large population of the elderly in South Asian countries, we do not have a single specialized geriatric unit with qualified and trained staff to address their health-related problems,” she added.