Active and healthy aging

What is active aging?
The best definition is the one adopted by the World Health Organization (WHO), which defines the “active aging” as “the process of optimizing opportunities for physical, social and mental health throughout life, with the aim to extend healthy life expectancy, productivity and quality of life in old age.This definition includes not only aging from health care, but incorporates all the factors of the social, economic and cultural impact of aging people.

Active aging should be considered a primary objective both by society and by policy makers, trying to improve the independence, health and higher productivity.

Society must support a “culture of active and healthy aging” that allows older:

This support should be provided in the areas of health, economy, jobs, education, justice, housing and transportation.
– Suffer less by the disabilities associated with chronic diseases .
– Need a health and social care less .
– Do not suffer alone situations, maintaining their independence and a good quality of life .
-Continue to participate in the economic, social, cultural and political, both through paid work and unpaid collaborations .

What activities do more?
Surveys conducted to know what time the largest dedicated indicate that, in addition to time spent sleeping and health care, about 12 hours, about 97% watch TV, 71% listen to the radio and falls 10% of engaged read often (this figure can impact the cultural and visual problems of many older people).

The 70% usually walk and go to buy, up to 43% during activity after retirement tourist and between 20% and 30%, involved in any associations, cultural activities, attending courses or doing crafts sport .But what should be noted is that the percentage of older who would like to perform these activities, especially exercise, go for a walk or shopping, recreational societies attend or read the newspaper, is even greater.Even up to 40% are interested in maintaining a work activity or pass on their knowledge to younger people.

Regarding income, those most concerned are those who live alone, no children or relatives, as the risk of becoming destitute is greater.

Also, pay special attention to the elderly living in rural areas suffer as input greater insulation than those living in urban areas.

In the labor
In the labor field, support must be active and productive contribution of older people, both paid and unpaid work (home, child care or other major) and in voluntary work (in schools, communities, public organizations , museums and businesses, private).

These activities maintain and enhance their social contacts and mental wellbeing, as well as make them feel comforted by their contribution to society.You can also support this area with programs of gradual or partial retirement.

Social protection
Regarding social protection, the family remains the mainstay of the biggest.However, due to the current change in family structure by reducing the number of members and the incorporation of women into the workplace, the need for greater public protection to prevent loneliness and increased vulnerability.

The physical
That the physical note can be the biggest factor in the fact that such person is a dependent or independent.For example, it is more likely that an older person is physically and socially active if you can safely go for a walk in well-lit parks and access to local transport easily.

Older people living in unsafe or contaminated areas come under home and therefore are more prone to isolation and depression, as well as their physical condition is worse and have more mobility problems.

With regard to housing, a safe and adequate housing is especially important for the welfare of the elderly.It could encourage the development of alternative housing, shared housing or supervised as conducive to individual and social development, while avoiding isolation.

Biology, genetics and adaptability
Biology, genetics and adaptability are three main factors that determine how a person ages.

The changes that accompany aging progress gradually and individual differences are significant .For example, the physical performance of a 70-year-old who stays in shape may be similar to that of a 30-year-old does not stay in shape.

During the aging process abilities as reaction time, speed of learning and memory, naturally decline.However, this may be offset by an increase of wisdom, knowledge and experience. More often, the lack of practical activity, lack of motivation and confidence, isolation and depression are due to the decline in cognitive performance that aging itself.

The influence of genetic factors on the development of chronic diseases such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s and certain cancers varies considerably from person to person.In general, be free from disease or disability in old age depends equally, inheritance, personal behavior, adaptation to daily life and the physical environment, social and economic.Older people tend to adapt well to have a self and a positive attitude and are confident of achieving their goals.

Behavioural factors
On the behavioral factors, one of the myths about aging turns on the idea that adopting a healthy lifestyle in old age is too late, but it is not . Adequate physical activity avoiding a sedentary lifestyle, eating a healthy diet, not smoking , drinking alcohol prudent and proper use of medications in the elderly , can prevent disease and functional decline, can foster social relationships, prolong improve longevity and quality of life.

Social environmental factors
Regarding social environment factors, it should be noted that social support from family, friends, neighbors or volunteering, opportunities for education and lifelong learning (and especially now, in the area of ​​new technologies information and communication) and protection from abuse whether physical, sexual, psychological and economic, are key to improving the health, independence and productivity in old age. Avoid loneliness, social isolation, illiteracy and lack of education and abuse greatly decreases the risk of disability and premature death in the elderly.

Key factors for active aging: what should I do for society and for the elderly
To achieve a “culture of active aging” involves the interaction of both factors of nature, health, economic, physical environment, personal and even social behavior.

For the promotion of active aging, health systems and public and private social should collaborate in health promotion and disease prevention, establishing programs of nutrition education and oral health and exercise programs for the maintenance or restoration of mobility and strength.

These programs would prevent or reduce physical and mental disabilities in old age and thus achieve the balance between self-care of the elderly, the support of the “informal” caregivers and professional care.Note that the “informal” caregivers, mostly women, they should pay special attention to the risk of falling ill support them with training, temporary assistance and / or financial support.

Among the economic factors affecting revenue, labor and social protection:

Seniors are more vulnerable than the rest of the population, due to age, chronic diseases and disabilities suffered.Therefore, the challenge is to raise our society is to maintain an active and healthy aging as far as possible and, above all, an acceptable quality of life.

To develop a positive aging, society must provide more opportunities for them to be independent, to be in good health and to be productive.It is also important that they enjoy greater security and comfort, promoting wellness and creating environments more conducive and favorable environment.Think more in training than disable, considering the elders as active participants and contributors to society.

It is important to identify as early as possible the loss of autonomy and establish the measures necessary for older people to remain as independent as possible, including through telemedicine and telecare programs.

As reasons to promote active aging we have a lower cost of health services and medical, improved social interaction and better physical, mental and psychological.

Also, one of the measures to be carried out is the approximation of the media to the elderly, to provide the company a positive image of active and healthy aging and to disseminate and popularize the term “active aging” through of political debates in public forums and in the same media.It also should encourage research in this field, involving older people as both consultants and researchers.