About 50 per cent elderly residents in non-urban areas of Noida and Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh suffer from chronic illness, including respiratory problems, diabetes and blood pressure, according to a survey.

Elderly people from lower income groups have been apparently struck hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change in the region, with many of them complaining about breathing problems while hypertension and depression cases have been reported in rural areas, suggests data collected over a year by not-for-profit NGO HelpAge India.

For the survey, HelpAge India said it reached out to two lakh elderly individuals in around 70 lower-income neighbourhoods in Noida and Greater Noida in Gautam Buddh Nagar district, adjoining Delhi.

The survey was done from June 1, 2021 till May 31, 2022 and the age range selected for analysis was 56 to 91 years old for both men and women, it said in a statement.

''Osteoarthritis, COPD, diabetes, skin condition and blood pressure are all frequent disorders affecting senior adults. Approximately half of the senior citizens, about 50 per cent of them, have been complaining about these chronic diseases,” says Dr Dhirendra Kumar Saxena.

Saxena was part of a team that conducted 36 health camps in collaboration with village panchayats and the local district administration, providing medical assistance to almost 96,000 senior citizens, according to the statement.

According to the survey, 40 per cent elders told HelpAge that they are facing breathing problem.

''Respiratory problem has emerged as one of the most significant concerns for senior adults. Five per cent elders have been diagnosed with asthma and other respiratory disorders,'' said Dr Ritu Rana, Mission Head – Healthcare, HelpAge India, who oversees healthcare operations across the country.

“A large number of senior persons living in villages, sub-urban poor localities in Noida, Greater Noida and areas along the Noida-Greater Noida Expressway have complained of respiratory problems,” Rana said.

The senior citizens believe that their breathing problems may be due to the pandemic situation or due to their exposure to dust and traffic pollution, the survey stated.

The neighbourhoods included in the survey are Kasna, Bilaspur, Dankaur, Bhangel, Gejha, Chhaprauli, and scores of villages, slums, and semi-urban societies in the Noida-Greater Noida Expressway where HelpAge workers visited and provided health relief, according to the statement.

Simultaneously, in the last year, more than 12 per cent of senior citizens in the region's sub-urban and rural areas have complained about symptoms of hypertension, depression, and diabetes.

''Income has been lost for families. Both sons and their elderly fathers used to work in the past. Their combined income made it possible to keep the house afloat. Now that the pandemic has hit, they're all struggling to make ends meet,” said Dr Rana.

“Opportunities for part-time work have also decreased. Second, the pandemic and subsequent extreme climate have forced the poor elders to remain indoors and in isolation, increasing their sense of fear, worry, and generating mental health issues like anxiety and depression among them,'' she added.

Hundreds of elders in the region in lower income colonies were diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), an inflammatory lung condition that produces restricted airflow from the lungs, between November, 2021 and March, 2022, the survey showed.

Gejha village's Rakesh Pradhan said the statistics are “frightening”.

The pandemic has had a significant impact on the physical and emotional health of senior individuals, including those from lower socioeconomic groups, he said, noting that previously, he linked hypertension to urbanisation and a city-lifestyle.

''It has now infiltrated rural and sub-urban areas next to our urban towns in a large way,'' Pradhan said.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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