Healthy Aging: Helping Older Adults to Live Long Productive Lives
The United States population is aging rapidly. Older adults today are living longer than anyone from previous generations. In the future decades, the numbers of adults 65 years or older will increase dramatically. This drastic shift in the population will have significant implications for our current public health system. Unprecedented demands on the provision of health care and age-related services will become strained. Public health efforts to promote health and functional independence are crucial to older adults. Studies have shown that a decline in health is not a consequence of growing old. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2011), “Older adults who practice healthy behaviors, take advantage of clinical preventive services, and continue to engage with family and friends are more likely to remain healthy, live independently, and incur fewer health-related costs”. The main component in keeping older adults healthy is prevention of chronic illnesses and related disabilities. These chronic illnesses account for more than 60% of all deaths among older adults. Efforts to prevent or reduce the risk of disease must be explored. Throughout this paper, opportunities to promote and preserve the health of older adults will be discussed in length. The five top priorities needed in order to improve older adults’ health and quality of life are: Promotion of healthy lifestyle, increase use of preventative services, addressing cognitive impairment, screening for mental health issues, and providing education on planning for future illness. Health promotion has positive effects on healthy lifestyle and health outcomes. Healthy behaviors play a major role in preventing unnecessary disease, postponing disability, and improving quality of life for older adults. Changes in certain behaviors can prolong health and the quality of life in older adults. The maintenance and promotion of health is achieved through a combination of physical, mental, and social well-being. Older adults can improve their health by keeping physically active, getting enough sleep, eating nutritiously, limiting alcohol use, and avoiding smoking. Older adults that maintain strong social relationships, volunteer, and are active in their community also may have an increase in their longevity of health. Achieving and maintaining health is an ongoing process that is created by both the knowledge and practices of health care, as well as personal strategies for staying healthy. One area that is especially important for older adults in improving and extending their quality of life is pedestrian safety. As people get older, they can develop age-related problems such as arthritis, poor vision, and poor balance that make it harder to get around. According to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (2011), “1 out of 3 adults aged 65 years or older falls each year. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death for this age group”. To address this public health concern, community leaders in Henderson, NC, came together to implement a program called Walk Wise, Drive Smart. The goal of this program is to make neighborhoods and surrounding areas in Hendersonville more pedestrian-friendly for older adults. For older adults, being able to walk not only promotes physical and mental well-being, bit it also helps them to stay more connected to their communities. The Walk Wise, Drive Smart program demonstrates the power of city officials and citizens working together to make policy and environmental changes to make it easier for all residents to walk safely in their communities. Preventative health services are valuable for maintaining the quality of life and wellness for older adults. Increasing the use of these services depends on the health care system’s ability to deliver appropriate preventive services, as well...
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