Healthy body

Aging is a toilsome treadmill grinding to a tragic halt as the years pile up. It is a life spanning process of growth and development running from birth to death. It is generally assocaited with fatigue and decline in the functional capacity of the organs of the body due to physiological transformation.
Interest in human aging and in the aged has increased markedly among social scientists during the past few decades. The easy availability of life saving drugs, better knowledge of health awareness and nutrition has increased the life expectancy, delay in the onset of aging and the associated health problems. This has resulted in the increase in the population of elderly persons. According to UNESCO  estimate the number of the aged above 60 is likely to go up from 378 million in 1975 (171 million in developed world and 207 in developing world) to 590 million in 2005 (230 million in developed and rest in third world) India alone has 43 million old people according to 1981 census. Aging as a problem has arisen due to a relatively higher increase in the proportion of the population of the aged (Kumar, 1992).
Problems of the Aged
Various studies (Mahajan, 1986; Chadha, 1989, Kan and Kan, 1987) have discussed the range of problems of the aged varying from ensured sufficient income to sound health. The aged are one of the vulnerable groups of our society. As the individual grows older his health begins to decline. He becomes financially dependent as he is not able to earn his livelihood. He tends to feel that he is socially vulnerable because he finds that his status in society has declined and his own family may not give him the same importance. He fears becoming psychologically vulnerable and that pushes him to loneliness. Being subjected to stress and anxiety over his future, failing health, reduced financial resources, decreasing mental abilities and care and attention he thinks he will have a tough time at death (Desai, 1985). Aged are not a homegeneous as their problems and needs vary and can be seen mainly under three headings, (i) Economic (ii) Physical and Physiological (iii) Psychosocial and Environmental.
Health and Aging
Healthy body and healthy mind are a prerequisite of all meaningful existence. Man being a social animal needs to participate in social life for which he needs a role and the role implies physical energy, the source of which is a healthy body. Healthy mind is required to govern and appreciate one's social action and to maintain mental peace and poise.
WHO defines ‘Health’ as a state of complete physical, mental and social well being not merely the absence of disease or infirmity In the last decade increasing concern has been expressed world wide regarding the health of high risk groups, mothers, children and elderly International meetings and conferences have been held such as United Nations Assembly on Health of the Elderly etc.
A distinction is made between the terms aging and senescence emphasising that the former is a natural process occurring with passage of years while the latter is pathological. It is how ever difficult to demarcate where physiology ends and pathology begins. Truly the distinction very often is not clear cut and one may be inclined to accept that “old age itself is a disease”. The relationship between chronological age and illness is well known and well documented.
Aging is generally associated with fatigue and decline in functional capacity of the organs of the body due to physiological transformation. Oberoi and Dey (1991) in their study of rural and urban aged found that first and fore most problem felt by elderly was physical problem and reason for maximum importance given to it by old people was associated with fact that the persons with good health can satisfy all of their needs but physically incapable persons become fully dependent for their every day needs on other family members.
Another economic problem very closely associated with aging is the loss of job or retirement. Retirement for many people is not a peaceful welcome retreat to the pleasant pastures from hurley-burly of unmitigated toil. Work provides most with the source of legitimate income and hence with self respect. In Britain it was found by several national and locally conducted surveys that the bare subsistence income to many of the elderly is a substantial contributory factor to their poor health. Low income contributed particularly to poor nutritional standards. (Jaffery, 1972).
Health and Retirement
The contention that retirement may have an adverse effect on health has become increasingly popular with the categorization of this phenomenon as a ‘Stressful Life Event’. The debate over the validity of viewing retirement as a major stress inducer or life event has pointed out the importance of taking into account many issues.  
Several studies (Martin and Doran, 1966, Hynes, et al., 1977) attempting at the empirical examination of the effects of retirement on health status have suggested the possibility of differential morbidity, morality and preceived health status at different points in the retirement process, Palmone et al. (1979) while studying the effects of five major life events (retirement, spouse’s retirement, major medical event, widowhood and departure of last child from home) and of three types of resources (physical, psychological and social) on the physical and psycho-social adaptation, found that retirement had the most negative socio-psychological effects but had little over all effect on physical adaptation. Also this effect tended to be limited to only those with lower resources.
An individual may be seen to respond differently to an event prior to, during and at different intervals following its occurrences. Atchley (1976) tried to relate this temporal view of life changes, especially to retirement. He conceptualized seven distinct phases during which the retirement role is approached, taken and relinquished. Pre-retirement has ‘remote’ and ‘near’ phases, latter one often involved ‘gearing up’ for separation from one’s job and from the social situation in which work takes place. This phase has been observed to bear a significant relationship to changes in morbidity and mortality. It also involves differential life satisfaction for persons in different socioeconomic and occupational categories (Burgess. 1958;  Haynes, et al., 1977). The retirement is followed by ‘honeymoon phase’ which is characterised by a positive perception of retirement and high level of activity. This stage may be absent for low income individuals and for those who retire against their will.
Where a honeymoon phase occurs, it is often followed by a ‘disenchantment phase’a period of let down and despondency, as the retiree begins to cope with such problems as inadequate income, poor health and loss of friends. This also lends a support to the notion of disenchantment phase of retirement. The ‘reorientation’ and ‘stability phase’ are described as involving an acceptance of and adjustment to retirement role. In the last phase, that is of ‘termination’, the retirement role becomes irrelevant in one’s life. It often involves the concealing of the retirement role by illness and disability. The retirement role is then replaced by the sick and disabled role as the key organising factor in an individual’s life.
The retirement phases described above clearly are not tied to specific periods or chronological ages nor are they in any way universal, rather, they constitute an ‘ideal type’.
Health, Woman and Retirement
An old saying is ‘A man is as old as he feels and a woman as old as she looks’. It is well known that chronological age and physiological-psychological ages do not correspond. No two men of same chronological age, are identical regarding efficacy of their body and mind. We may date the beginning of aging more precisely in women-from the onset of menopause but not so in men (Pathank, 1982).
In terms of health status, differences between the sexes have most often shown women to have higher rates of morbidity. In fact it has been observed that ‘women are sicker but men die sooner’ (Nangla, 1987).
Philip (1976) in his study of women and retirement found that women perceived their health positively despite the fact that many reported at least some degree of functional disability and many were quite incapacitated. Older women are found to be more prone to overestimation of their health and ignorant to their physical limitations. Levy (1980) found that healthy women retirees seemed to experience a sense of personal time ahead of them in comparison to those who were chronically ill.
An attempt was made to study the various aspects of health of retired women exploring their present health status, change found after retirement, various ailments reported, mode of treatment, taken care by during illness, change in diet, reasons for change and also various other factors responsible for change in health after retirement etc.
Objectives of the study
1.     To compare the change in health of retiree before and after retirement. 
2.     To study the impact of change in health on adjustment to retirement.
3.     To observe the ailments from which women retirees suffer
4.     To study the mode of treatment of illness after retirement
5.     To compare the change in the medical expenses before and after retirement
6.     To compare the change in the pattern of care by family members before and after retirement.
7.     To study the dietary pattern of women retirees and the changes that come in it after retirement.

No comments