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November 2019

Health promotion as important for older people



A new report from the British Geriatrics Society says messages of prevention and healthy ageing apply just as much to older population group that may already be ill and frail, as to those in younger age groups.

'Healthier for Longer' says while the gains of prevention in relation to older people's health may be modest in terms of years of life gained, the impact in terms of quality of life is likely to be significant. While the benefits of prevention in younger populations may take many years to come to fruition, prevention measures in older people can produce immediate results.

Key themes of the report include lifestyle factors (such as physical activity, smoking and alcohol), the basics of daily living (such as sleep and eye health) and medical interventions (such as polypharmacy and preoperative care).

The report also highlights the following five steps that all healthcare professionals can take to help promote healthy ageing and prevention in later life:

  • 'Care at every contact' - every touchpoint of care is a potential opportunity to help people to engage in their own health and work with others to improve it.
  • 'Cover the basics' - older people need to be able to see, hear, eat, drink and sleep well even if other more complex health issues are being addressed.
  • 'Consider the whole person' - healthcare issues may not be the only or even the most pressing concern for a patient. Ask what matters to them and how they can be supported.
  • 'Communicate clearly' - tell older people what is going on and how they can help with improving their health.
  • 'Collaborate with others' - work with colleagues, therapy teams, families and the older person themselves to give the best chance of recovery and independence.

The report recommends that older patients are regularly reviewed to ensure that they are only taking medications that they still need, and that they are able to manage their medicines appropriately.

Reference

British Geriatric Society. Healthier for longer.