New WHO report on ageing and health has age-friendly relevance
We all know that pictures can tell stories in ways that words sometimes cannot. The new infographic from the World Health Organization (W.H.O) certainly explicates a story on Ageing & Health -- one in which we can all relate.
It is no surprise that one’s health impacts one’s life. And we can also agree that aging impacts one’s health over a lifetime. This is why the W.H.O infographic notes that every older person is different. And, as we can all attest, some people will retain the functional status of a much younger person while others will require a range of assistance for basic activities necessary for daily life.
The infographic also reveals that a variety of individual AND environmental factors impact health throughout the years. While we all recognize that inherently our health is a manifestation of our own genetics, age-related changes, health conditions, and behaviors over the course of our lives, many do not consider the environmental influences that also impact aging. For example, housing, transportation, social-care facilities, and assistive technologies can also greatly impact the aging experience.
According to the W.H.O., a variety of changes can improve our own aging as well as the health and aging of others throughout society.
Foremost, we MUST change the way we think about aging and older people. Ageism focused on negative stereotypes permeates our views about getting older and therefore limits what might be. There are many positive aspects of aging that are overlooked and minimized with ageist lens.
Our health systems must also adapt to meet the needs of aging people who largely experience chronic diseases that are best prevented and holistically managed – rather than treated discreetly and episodically. In addition, the provision of necessary assistance to people in times of need should also be holistic, minimally disruptive to our autonomy and dignity, and to the greatest extent possible, reflect our own preferences as well.
Finally, age-friendly environments are advocated to best meet the needs of an aging society. This requires attention to eight domains of livability that most impact our quality of lives including: housing, transportation, communication and information, social participation, civic engagement and employment, outdoor spaces and public buildings, respect and inclusion, and community supports and health services. Age-Friendly Sarasota aims to create a livable community for all ages – in which healthy aging is promoted and people can stay engaged throughout their lives in the communities in which they reside.