During the archaeological excavations carried out in the ancient city of “Anaia” in Aydın’s Kuşadası district, many tombs were found and human remains were examined in order to provide information about the living conditions of that period. As a result of the examinations, it has been found that the average life expectancy of the people of this ancient city, which is estimated to have lived in the 13th century, varies between 40 and 50 years.
The average life expectancy calculated for individuals living in our country today is 78.6 years. In other words, we live 30-40 years longer than these people we live in the same geography with a difference of about a thousand years.
This comparison inevitably brings the following question to mind; What makes us live longer than our ancestors centuries ago, who lived in the Anaia people and other ancient cities like them?
It will be insufficient to attribute the answer to this question to a single reason. Not being able to eat well in the past, poor hygiene conditions, not being able to benefit from health facilities and the lack of treatment methods as they are today are the leading reasons.
When we look back at the past time; It is stated that many sultans of the Ottoman Empire, who had the most superior facilities of the period, lost their lives due to diseases such as diabetes (diabetes), rheumatic diseases, tuberculosis (tuberculosis), which we can manage today. According to historical sources; It is stated that Fatih Sultan Mehmet died at the age of 49 and Yavuz Sultan Selim at the age of 50 due to health problems related to diabetes and other chronic diseases.
With advances in medical science and the development of technology, many chronic diseases can be prevented from causing early death. Even if the chronic diseases of individuals cannot be fully treated, the diseases can be brought under control and the life span of individuals is extended with devices, drugs, vaccines and effective treatment techniques that help to make a rapid diagnosis.
However, the prolongation of life expectancy brings with it some negativities that affect the individual and society. When countries are divided into age groups at certain intervals in terms of population, it is seen that the balance of young and old population has increased in the direction of the elderly in recent years. Especially in developed countries, the share of elderly individuals in the population of the countries is increasing rapidly with the effect of decreasing birth rates in a way that alarm bells are ringing.
Aging causes some physiological, psychological and cognitive changes in the human body. Many diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, chronic lung diseases, chronic kidney disease and cancers are frequently seen in old age. Again with aging, the decrease in the bone and muscle density of the individual; loss of vision, hearing and balance; Individuals in this period may need special care due to forgetfulness and even diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. Anxiety, depression and anxiety are mood disorders that are common in old age.
Most elderly individuals can survive on their own, even if they have chronic diseases. In our country, 1 million 478 thousand 346 elderly individuals live alone. However, due to reasons such as aging, increase in complications of diseases and/or emergence of new diseases, elderly individuals may need to be supported in terms of health and social aspects. There may even be situations where the individual is completely dependent on the care of another.
In such cases, one of the most important factors affecting the quality of life and comfort of the elderly person is the competence of the caregiver. It is known that when there is a need for health and social support, the preference of professionals who are trained, competent and experienced in caring for the elderly or individuals with chronic diseases increases the quality of care. Monitoring the symptoms of diseases, preventing complications, effective drug management, maintaining adequate and balanced nutrition require a certain education and experience. Just as children are not small models of adults, it would be wrong to accept that the elderly are the same as adults. Care provided by ignoring the different needs and expectations of elderly individuals is not effective in achieving successful results. The care process should not only be seen as the management of diseases, but should also include human values such as communication with the individual and moral support.
It should not be forgotten that; Every individual, regardless of age, deserves respect and love.
Dr. Instructor Member Özden GÜDÜK
Higher Specialization University
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