European Public Health WEEK
11-15 May 2020
Joining forces for healthier populations
Friday 15 May:
GROW OLD, GROW HEALTHY
Our societies are ageing, with an increasing portion of the population being aged 65 and older. People are living longer, though not always in good health. Healthy ageing is about age-friendly environments and integrated delivery of long-term care. It’s also about identifying older people as active contributors to society rather than patients. How do you promote healthy ageing?
COVID-19 and grow old, grow healthy
Social isolation and loneliness in older people; protecting older people (including vaccinations, e.g. seasonal influenza and pneumococcal disease); solidarity; (preventing and managing) frailty and multimorbidity
Healthy ageing; frailty prevention; physical activity; psychosocial element of healthy ageing, e.g. social participation; how society sees the value of older people; older people’s active role beyond being a patient; health promotion; social capital
- ‘Older people are at highest risk from COVID-19, but all must act to prevent community spread.’ – Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe
- During the COVID-19 pandemic, when older people are encouraged to stay at home, regular, moderate physical activity can help to maintain muscle strength and cognitive function, reduce anxiety and depression, and prevent disease.
- ‘I am reminding governments and authorities that all communities must be supported to deliver interventions to ensure older people have what they need. All older people should be treated with respect and dignity during these times. Remember, we leave no one behind.’ -Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe
- Healthy ageing is an important prerequisite for employment, volunteering, knowledge sharing and economic spending, through which older people are an asset to society.
- Actions to combat loneliness, social isolation and social exclusion in older people include fostering intergenerational relations, positive media reporting about this age group, access to social services by phone and training in the use of technology.
- Older people are experts on their needs and what is important to them. To provide person-centred integrated care, older people must actively be involved in the decision making about their health and social services.
- Nurses and support workers are key health professionals who support and care for older people. It is vital that these workers are protected from COVID-19 through adequate training, protective equipment and up to date information on how to recognise and respond to the symptoms of COVID-19.
- Many informal care workers provide care for older people and are often left unprotected. It is important that we make personal protective equipment available for these workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Advanced age should not by itself be a criterion for excluding patients from specialized hospital units.
- During the coronavirus outbreak, older people might experience an understandable slowing down in the discharge from acute care to rehabilitation/post-acute care units. This generates prolonged hospital stays with increased risk of iatrogenic consequences. We should make all the necessary efforts for the patients discharged from acute care units and probably use more home care facilities for rehabilitation purposes.
- Digital devices can facilitate social care and support to older and disabled people, helping health workers and social workers to address priority conditions including mobility limitations, vision and hearing loss, depressive symptoms, and rehabilitation of older survivors of COVID-19.
- If older people reach a point where they can no longer care for themselves and access to rehabilitation without support and assistance, access to good-quality long-term care is essential for such people to maintain their functional ability, enjoy basic human rights and live with dignity.
- Health-promotion and disease-prevention measures to tackle the common risk factors for non-communicable diseases can contribute greatly to healthy ageing. For example, the European Region has the highest alcohol consumption in the world. The average in the European Union, almost 3 drinks per person per day, is more than double the world average. Tobacco consumption is also relatively high in many European countries.
- Loneliness, social isolation and social exclusion are risk factors of ill health among older people, in particular in the absence of support from family networks.
- Lack of assistive products and rehabilitation services can mean older people are isolated and excluded from work, family and community life with increased expenses leading to poverty.
- There are currently 2.5 times more women than men among the people aged 85 years and over in the WHO European Region.
- The prevention of communicable diseases and health education and literacy are important tools to empower older people.
- By 2050, 80% of older people will be living in low- and middle- income countries.
- Urban areas with public space, walking circuits, and pedestrian paths can contribute to improved well-being, especially in older people.
- Healthy Ageing resources by the WHO Regional Office for Europe
- Supporting older people during the COVID-19 pandemic is everyone’s business (Press briefing with Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe)
- European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing by the European Commission
- Statement from the European Geriatric Medicine Society on the COVID-19 pandemic
- Global strategy and actin plan on ageing and health
- World report on ageing and health
Partners of this day:
EUPHA Sections: Food and nutrition | Health Technology Assessment | Public Mental Health | Urban Public Health