“Health is wealth” is a very relevant phrase in present times. World Health day is celebrated on April 7 each year to mark the anniversary of foundation of the WHO in 1948. The topic of World Health Day in 2012 is Ageing and health with the theme "Good health adds life to years”. Very significant topic considering a resent survey which concludes that in the next few years, for the first time, there will be more people in the world aged 60 plus than children aged less than five. The study sure presses the red buzzer and our entire fraternity of “Health-moolahs” are focussing on good health management techniques. The crux is how good health throughout life can help older men and women lead full and productive lives and be a resource for their families and communities. Ageing impacts all – whether young or old, male or female, rich or poor – no matter where we live. Isn’t??
Key risk factors and preventive measures:-
1. Non-communicable diseases - the main health risk for older peopleThe main health challenges for older people everywhere are non-communicable diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and chronic lung disease. People in low- and middle-income countries currently face up to four times the risk of death and disability from non-communicable diseases than people in high-income countries..
“Yet most of these conditions are largely preventable or inexpensive to treat if kept under regular health checks and diagnosed at initial stage” says Dr. Sinha, a practising physician in Jaipur.
2. Irregular/Erratic lifestylesThe risk of developing all non-communicable diseases can be significantly reduced by adopting healthy behaviors, such as being physically active, eating a healthy diet, avoiding the harmful use of alcohol and tobacco products. The earlier people adopt these behaviours, the better their chance of enjoying a healthy old age.
Healthy lifestyles from the very beginning of life is key to a healthy and active old age and we must all acknowledge we sow what we reap .
3. Treatment shy or inability for treatment“It is a common belief that treatment is required when all other measures fail. This myth needs to be broken as today preventive medical science had grown by leaps and bounds and we don’t need to age and suffer before we rush to our doctor. Prevention is definitely better than cure.
WHO highlights the need for countries to take steps to prevent non-communicable diseases, and to ensure that systems and services are in place to provide treatment and care when it is required. Many of these services are highly cost-effective. For example, high blood pressure – a key risk factor for both heart disease and stroke – can be effectively treated for just a small amount a year. Today, less than 15% of older people in low- and middle-income countries in need are receiving treatment for high blood pressure.
WHO has outlined four key actions that governments and societies can take now to strengthen healthy and active ageing.
- Promote good health and healthy behaviors at all ages to prevent or delay the development of chronic diseases.
- Minimize the consequences of chronic disease through early detection and quality care (primary, long-term and palliative care).
- Create physical and social environments that foster the health and participation of older people.
- "Reinvent ageing" - changing social attitudes to build a society in which older people are respected and valued.
4. Suffering due to stereotyped perceptionStigmatizing attitudes and common stereotypes often prevent older people from participating fully in society. Older people make important contributions as family members, volunteers and as active participants in the workforce and are a significant social and economic resource.
When a 100-year-old man finishes a marathon, as happened last year, we have to rethink conventional definitions of what it means to be ‘old’. Ageing is only a mental state. Even a 60 year old may have a heart of a youth and an youth can worry like a 60 year old. Hence, past stereotypes developed in past centuries no longer hold. There is strong push for breaking stereotypes
It is important to illustrate how global issues such as population ageing impact local communities and, indeed, every citizen. Since ageing concerns all of us, human interest stories and testimonials from real people are likely to strongly appeal to the media and the public. Let us all do to our little bit to spread the enlightenment and secret-mantra of “Healthy Living”. If each and every individual makes a conscious effort the world will definitely be a better place to breathe!!!