October to be observed as elderly month every year

All the elderly people throughout the country will have their health screening done this month

Coinciding with the International Day of Older Persons, the Ministry of Health (MoH) launched the service package for older people in the country on October 1.

The services include ‘priority signage’, ‘health and wellbeing handbook’ for older people throughout the nation and observing October as elderly month every year.

At the inauguration of the event at the Nima Higher Secondary School in Thimphu, Health Minister Dasho Dechen Wangmo said that elderly people are respected in Bhutan. 

“The role of a parent to bring up a child is highlighted in the common phrase that we often use “drenchen gi pham” which undoubtedly indicates the responsibilities that we must shoulder to take care of our ageing family.”  

Specific to the intervention introduced on October 1, Lyonpo said that this is a small initiative towards the promotion of healthy aging in Bhutan.

The priority signage will be displayed in all the health facilities across the country. This will facilitate the older people above 65 years and people living with disabilities to access health services on priority.  

A handbook will also be issued to all the older people, who visit health facilities. This handbook will be used to document all medical conditions, treatment, any home bound care needs and follow-up checkups.

In addition to the launch of the two critical interventions outlined above, with the guidance from the Health Minister and unwavering commitment from the Prime Minister, the month of October will be declared as the month of older people. 

As the MoH launched programs for the older persons coinciding with the day, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said, “I would like to share that it is not the service we are offering but a responsibility we all must shoulder, not just today but for every day.”

“Just as His Majesty The King keeps them close to the heart with special care and benevolence, we must also do our part to hold the wrinkling hands who have held ours since the beginning. Let us pledge to be the cane that will prop them with strength and pride until the end,” Lyonchhen said. 

Health Minister Dasho Dechen Wangmo also mentioned that throughout October, health screening for various Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) will be supplemented with the assessment of mental health conditions amongst the older people.

“This is timely and highly relevant as there are growing occurrences of mental health illnesses amongst the elderly population along with an anticipated rise in the incidence of NCDs,” Lyonpo said.

According to the MoH, it strongly believes in enhancing person centered care across all ages and is committed to fully addressing the health needs of the older population. 

Meanwhile, there are a total of 42,632 elderly persons in the country, out of which 34% of them live with various medical conditions.

Similarly, other sectors such as banks and airlines also offer services to the elderly.

Dechen Dolkar from Thimphu