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Geriatric Palliative Care (GPC): Geriatric Medicine and Palliative Care

12 November, 2020 Arindam Chakraborty

Every human being aspires to live a full life, complete with adventures, fun, and occasional sadness. Above all other aspirations, what a human being desires the most is dignity in all aspects of life.

When people get old, they are often ignored and not cared for by family members. Elderly individuals often suffer negligence concerning their health and emotional well being. Hence, the implementation of geriatric and palliative systems in the health infrastructure is the need of the hour.

Sociological Crisis in the Modern Times

Many elderly people around the world have to live a lonely life without anyone to take care of them in life and in death. Kodokushi is a Japanese cultural phenomenon that translates to "Lonely Death". Many elderly people in Japan die without a trace and their bodies are often discovered when the stench of their rotting cadavers attracts the attention of neighbors and police. Similar cases are reported worldwide every year.

The world is facing a silent social crisis, were the lives of people have shrunk into constant work and stress. People socialize more on the social network than talking to each other face-to-face. Families are breaking apart due to a lack of communication among family members. The worst-hit from this global sociological pandemic are the weak and elderly people, who require constant assistance even with their basic routine tasks.

What Does Palliative Care for Elderly means?

Palliative care refers to end-of-life care, which is given to individuals who are suffering from incurable diseases and are on death bed. Palliative care saves these people from the agony and pain and gives them some relief in their final moments.

Palliative care is also provided to people at an advanced age (more than 75 years of age) who have lost control of vital body functions due to advanced age, such as motor and bladder control.

Palliative care does not only look over the physical requirements but also it involves providing an emotional support system for the ailing elderly people.

Challenges in Geriatric and Palliative Care

Caregivers face a lot of difficulties when providing care for elderly individuals who are at death's door. Complete synchronicity between geriatric medicine and palliative care is required to achieve success in providing reliable care to the patients. Various challenges in effective geriatric palliative care involve:

24×7 access to emergency medicine

Transport availability for immediate transfer to a medical facility in case of an emergency

Access to hospice care

Access to at-home testing and treatment

Adequate provisions for at-home care, such as availability of prescription medicines, nebulizers, oxygen cylinders, and nurses

Emotional and grief counseling for the patient and family members


Palliative care becomes more complicated when geriatric conditions are involved. The medical staff needs to adopt an ethical approach while delivering care that responds to the needs of the elderly patient. The empathic approach of the medicos, along with the love and support of the family members, can help in providing care for the elderly patient and help them transition from this world at peace.