Aging is a natural extension of youth. However, people older than 50 years have several medical and psychological ailments creep in their bodies.
Active aging is a concept designed by the World Health Organization to make sure the elderly, especially the vulnerable elderly, enjoy a good quality of life despite age-related limitations.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 54 million of the U.S. population is aged 65 years or older in 2019. This means one in every seventh American is elderly.
The CDC has established National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion to promote and fund the public and private healthcare establishments to improve the health of older adults.
7 measures to promote active aging
Seven measures to promote active aging include:
- Preventive health care: Because aging makes an individual prone to various lifestyle diseases, as well as cancers, it is important to screen and diagnose these as soon as possible. Thus, yearly (or six-monthly) check-ups with the doctor for blood pressure measurement and foot and dental check-ups are important. The same goes for blood tests and radiological investigations to diagnose prostate diseases, blood sugar levels, and ocular diseases (such as cataracts, glaucoma, and retinal illnesses). Screening for tumors may be actively done in the case of the presence of significant history.
- Dementia care: Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are well-known causes of poor quality of life among the elderly. An increase in the early assessment and the diagnosis of memory loss and making sure those with dementia stay active, independent, and involved in their community are important. Along with well-equipped old age homes, it is important to raise dementia awareness so that there is an increase in the number of people who speak to a healthcare provider about their worsening memory.
- Arthritis management: Osteoarthritis, joint pain, and stiffness are serious problems in the elderly. Untreated joint pain affects mobility, mood, and causes obesity, poor posture, and balance, and increased fall risk. Therefore, promoting physical activity programs, as well as physiotherapy, to manage arthritis pain is paramount. The provision of resources to help caregivers stay healthy and deliver quality care is important.
- Rehabilitation programs: Rehabilitation of elderly with lung diseases, heart conditions, advanced joint disorders, cancers, and other age-related diseases is a part of the promotion of active aging.
- Diabetes Prevention Program (National DPP): This is a lifestyle change program launched by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help screen and prevent complications of diabetes mellites. They help beneficiaries reduce their risk of type II diabetes through lifestyle modifications and initiation of drugs at proper times.
- Social activities: Many voluntary organizations and government-run centers have programs to help engage seniors, where they can make new friends. This includes social activities, such as Rummy-O, Karaoke, and Café-Corner.
- Seniors' health workshops: Many hospitals and local organizations often organize fun-filled workshops where they teach seniors about food and nutrition, healthy aging, and tips on making healthier lifestyle choices to improve and maintain their physical, mental, and functional health. Seniors can learn how to prepare healthy dishes through live demonstrations and instructors.
What does active aging mean?
Active aging means “staying active as you age.” Maintaining positive physical well-being, good social, and mental health, and continued involvement with family, peer group, and community throughout the aging process are important.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines active aging as “the process of optimizing opportunities for health, participation, and security in order to enhance the quality of life as people age.”
The “ABC” stands for active aging, befriending, and care and support. It is an idea to help seniors age gracefully.
5 determinants of active aging
The World Health Organization (WHO) has postulated five main determinants of active aging:
- Behavioral style
- Personal biological and psychological conditions
- Health and social services
- Physical environment
- Social and economic factors
Most programs that deal with elderly care adhere to these determinants. These target determinants of active aging, such as physical exercise, balanced nutrition, cognitively challenging activities, and positive affect to make life comfortable for the elderly.
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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Promoting Health for Older Adults. https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/factsheets/promoting-health-for-older-adults.htm
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