Ayurveda for Elderly- By Prof.Subhash Ranade
In the present Kali Yuga, the average age of individual is 100 years. Ayurveda has divided this in three stages in respect to predominance of Dosha, status of metabolism and status of organs and channels. The elderly stage starts from the age of 60 years. Aging or senescence is normal phenomena, and it should not be considered as disease or time clock be put on aging.
Aim of Ayurveda – Ayurveda expects that every individual should go into the phase of healthy aging. Individuals age at different rate and there is lot of variability depending on the type of constitution. No doubt every body wants to live longer life but the importance should be given to healthy living than mere longer life. There should not be any pathology or functional loss that will prevent day to activity. The main aim is to protect seven tissues, increase immunity and maintaining the balance of doshas.
Avoiding diseases while aging and living life without any discomfort or disability is the aim of Ayurveda. Successful aging should have four aspects – 1. Maintaining physical function, 2. Maintaining good mental functions, 3. Avoid diseases and 4. Enjoyment of life.
Physiology – At this stage Vata dosha starts gradually increasing and the anabolism is less and the catabolism is more. All the organs and channels have less capacity of functioning as compared to the previous stage of Young hood. The immunity also starts decreasing. The skin develops wrinkles and the muscle power starts decreasing because the fatty tissue starts replacing majority of the muscle tissue. Loss of muscle tissue increases the risk of premature aging.
1.Rasa dhatu- Skin looses its elasticity and wrinkles appear. The preenana function declines and hence the person becomes lethargic. All hairs become fine and there is diffuse loss of hairs leading to baldness.
2. Rakta dhatu- Rigidity of the arteries increases leading to hypertension. Hence the incidence of thrombosis increases. Decline in stroke volume of the heart takes place and chances of heart disorders also increase.
3.Mamsa dhatu-All muscles start loosing their tone. They become weak and wasting sets in. The process is accentuated with physical inactivity.
4. Meda dhatu- In some places fat tissue is lost while at other places there is excess growth. The tendency of obesity and diabetes increases.
1. Asthi dhatu- Rarefaction of bones leads to osteoporosis. This causes
Varieties of symptoms like pains and aches, low backache and spondilytis. Incidence of fractures increases.
2. Majja dhatu – Cerebral cortex looses many neurons leading to changes
in mental functions. Memory becomes weak and all the functions of sense organs decline gradually. Eyesight becomes weak, cataract, glaucoma and deafness also increases.
7.Shukra dhatu- Capacity for reproduction decreases and impotence develops.
8. Pranavaha srotas- Lung elasticity gets decreased, and the incidence of lung embolism and myocardial infarction increases.
9. Annavaha srotas- The digestive capacity also decreases and the incidence of cancer of the stomach increases.
10. Mutravaha srotas- Enlargement of prostate, incontinence of urine and chances of urine infection increases.
11.Purishavaha srotas- Constipation is common as Vata aggravates.
These changes take place after retirement. The person starts feeling that he is no more required by the society as well as by his family members and then depression may set in. Lack of sleep and physical debility leads to irritability. If the adjustment with the younger people becomes difficult that also becomes the cause of frustration. Senile psychosis is very common also.
Aging Gracefully and Healthy –
Daily abhyanga - Self massage with sesame oil every day is essential to control the aggravated Vata dosha. After this warm bath should be taken.
Regular exercise and Yoga – like walking, going to the nature for relaxation should be done daily. Similarly involvement in social activities as well as some spiritual meditation is always helpful during this age. Yoga postures should be done as per constitution.
Meditation – Daily practice of meditation helps the mind to remain calm and quiet and helps to get good sound sleep.
Mantra – Chanting of mantra dedicated to Lord Shiva like Aum Tryambakam yajamahe – is very useful to increase the Sattva quality of mind and to remove the fear of death.
Rasayana - Rasayana means rejuvenation or achieving longer and healthy life.
Vata – Abhyanga with sesame oil, bala root powder in dose of 1 gm. daily
Pitta – Ghee, Shatavari root powder in dose of 1 gm. Daily
Kapha- Old honey, ashwagandha root powder 500 mg. daily.
Rejuvenation for specific tissues –
Rakta – iron, amalaki – Emblica officinalis
Mamsa –bala – Sida cordifolia, ashwagandha –Withania somnifera
Meda – shilajatu, guggulu –Commiphora mukul
Asthi – laksha, vanshalochana,
Majja – shankhapushpi –Convolvulus pluricans, brahmi –Bacopa moniera
Shukra – Kapikacchu –Mucuna prureiens.
For psychological problems – Medhya rasayana are extremely useful to increase the intelligence and keeping memory intact. These should be used according to constitution as follows-
Vata and Kapha – Shankhapushpi, yashtimadhu.
Pitta – Brahmi, Mandukaparni, Jatamansi
Thus with the help of Ayurveda and Yoga all persons can remain healthy even in their old age.