Goa's aging population has been a concern expressed in the assembly, especially by Manohar Parrikar, who was the state's chief minister before he was elevated as India's defense minister last year. Dr. Dr. Shekhar Salkar, a leading oncologist has warned that the famous holiday destination Goa is just one or two generations away from being a haven for geriatrics.
Dropping fertility rates and the mortality odometer swinging in the opposite direction, its young workforce migrating away from its shores and the increasing trend of the state being a top destination for the country's retired and elderly appear to be only contributing to Goa's aging population.
Parrikar's fears already find reflection in the 2011 census data, which ranks Goa second after Kerala as far as the proportion of the old dependent population above the age of 60 years is concerned, at 11.2%. Incidentally, Goa also has the lowest proportional population within the 0-9 years age-group. Official data revealed that the fertility rate in the state, the average number of children per woman in the 15-35 year age bracket, has shrunk from 2.1 to 1.7. A fertility rate of 2.1 indicates a stable population, while anything below 2.1 suggests shrinking population growth.
Dr. Salkar said, "In 1947, the average life-span was 47 for females and 57 for males in Goa. Today, we have crossed 70 for males and I am quite sure with another one or two generations, we will reach 75. One of the main health issues then will be geriatric care. Goa is such a peaceful state that elderly people from all over India want to come to Goa and settle. That is why we have all this hype for real estate in Goa. That is because those people find comfort here and the temperature is reasonably good. The steady influx would only add to the number of the aged in the state."
With population trends suggesting Goa's rapid march towards an era of geriatry, the Manipal Hospital, is already gearing up for the demand by promoting home care services in Goa. Gopal Devanhalli, Chief operating officer of Manipal Health Enterprises said, "In Goa, within a generation or two we will have geriatric-oriented problems. So we have prepared for that to ensure that the elderly population can be well looked after. Our home care section will be our main thrust. The service would involve home visits by technicians and nurses who will be linked through technology to medical professionals who will examine the patient by remote. This will ensure that you do not have to bring the patient to the hospital for every small blood pressure test or blood test."