Ageing and Health:
A challenge to public health and social cohesion
Council of Europe, Strasbourg, June 23 2016
Professor MARTIN drew attention to 3 key areas for action in the WHO report and the work planned for its implementation.
- make the places we live in much more friendly to older people. (Good examples can be found in WHO’s Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities)
- Realigning health systems to the needs of older people which means a shift from systems that are designed around curing acute disease, to systems for the chronic conditions
- Develop long-term care systems so as to reduce inappropriate use of acute health services and ensure people live their last years with dignity.
This has to be done considering older people frailty which requires a holistic response at every stage of the lifespan
Health of older people is a result of genetics and experience from even before conception to old age. Although we are now recognizing that evolution has enabled us to develop plenty of reserve capacity, our repair mechanisms are finite. Cells, tissues and physiological systems lose reserve as we age so that in old age, many are at a stage when small additional stresses (falls etc) may produce disproportionate failure, particularly in functional abilities. . So we need a holistic response, he insists : diagnosis, treatment and enablement. Every stage of the lifespan is important.
Make healthcare systems suitable for older people from any socio economic background
Differences in socioeconomic factors lead to large differences in health and disability by the time people reach old age. Our challenge is to make healthcare systems suitable for modern older people. This involves society, policy, patients, most staff and most medical specialties says Pr MARTIN.
He raises the issue of cases of abuse revealed in the UK press, showing poor quality care for older people in hospitals. and care homes providing some research findings in the UK which explains some of this and the response in the hospital in which Professor MARTIN is working.