Concept of active ageing

Concept of active ageing

The World Health Organization argues that ‘active ageing’ is the need of the hour. Older people need to be viewed as a huge pool of human resource with high potentials for national development.Though prevalent assumption is that older people are spent force and useless, yet, in reality,most of them in all countries continue to be a vital resource to their families and communities. Many continue to work in both the formal and informal labour sectors. If we continue to treat our elderly as ‘non-productive’,we would be demeaning a vast source of talent and experience. It is in this context that active ageing policies and programmes are needed to enable people to continue to work according to their capacities and preferences as they growolder, and to prevent or delay disabilities and chronic diseases that are costly to individuals, families and the health care system.

Meaning of active ageing: If ageing is to be a positive experience, longer life must be accompanied by continuing opportunities for health, participation and security.Thus, the World Health Organization has adopted the term‘active ageing’ to express the process for achieving this vision.

Active ageing is the process of optimizing opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age.Active ageing applies to both individuals and population groups. It allows people to realize their potential for physical, social, and mental well being throughout the life course and to participate in society according to their needs, desires and capacities,while providing them with adequate protection, security and care when they require assistance.

Determinants of Active Ageing

According to WHO, following determinants influence active ageing:

Determinants Related to Heath and Social Service System The WHO has laid down that to promote active ageing; focus should be on health promotion, disease prevention and equitable access to quality primary health care and long term care.Health and social services need to be integrated, coordinated and cost effective.

There must be no age discrimination in the provision of services and service providers need to treat people of all ages with dignity and respect. It also includes effective mental health services for the elderly.

Determinants Related to Physical Environment

WHO maintains that majority of the injuries and disabilities due to falls and accidents in old age are preventable. There is a need to work on infrastructure that is elderly friendly( like low height slabs in the kitchen, slopes along with stairs, etc.).Clean water and clean air along with other basic amenities are must for the elderly.

Determinants Related to Social Environment

Elderly should be protected against all forms of abuse and exploitation. Social support is an antidote against most of social problems like elderly abuse, loneliness and alienation. If willing, elderly should have options to acquire and enhance literacy and education and other opportunities for skill updragation.The elderly willing to take up jobs should have opportunities for the same depending upon their capacity and interest.

Economic Determinants

The WHO maintains that if willing, elderly should be given opportunity to participate in workforce even after crossing stipulated retirement age. Those aged people who are economically deprived, it is the responsibility of the state to provide comprehensive social protection.Also, income of the elderly should be protected against forgery and other malpractices.

Behavioural Determinants

The adoption of healthy life styles and actively participating in one’s own care go a long way in ensuring active ageing.Elderly engaged in appropriate physical activity, healthy eating, not smoking and using alcohol and medication swisely in older age are able to prevent disease and functional decline, extend longevity and enhance their quality of life.

Determinants Related to Personal Factors

Biological process in old age is genetically determined.However, health and disease for an individual is the result of a combination of genetics,environment,lifestyle,nutrition, and to an important extent, chance. Elderly individuals can smartly prevent and delay onset of many chronic genetically determined ailments like diabetes, heart disease,Alzheimer’s Disease and certain cancers by bringing desired changes in their eating pattern sand life-style.Psychological well-being greatly influences the physical  health condition so coping patterns and social adjustment influence healthy and active ageing.

Culture and Gender as Cross-cutting Determinants

The WHO states that cultural values and traditions determine to a large extent how a given society views older people and the ageing process.When societies are more likely to attribute symptoms of disease to the ageing process, they are less likely to provide prevention, early detection and appropriate treatment services. Thus,while planning or intervening in any social context, its embedded cultural norms and values must be taken into account.

Gender is an important determinant as many of the issues in various biological, social and psychological aspects of ageing are peculiar to one gender and therefore, cannot be generalized.

Intersect oral Action

 Attaining the goal of active ageing would require involvement of whole range of stakeholders like family, neighbour hood, state, education system, recreation system, healthcare system, non-governmental organizations, community based organizations and most importantly,elderly them selves.Policy and programme initiatives are required at the levels of health and social services, education, employment and labour, finance, social security, housing, transportation, social justice and rural and urban development.

Convergence of services is a must as piecemeal approach has failed several times in the past.

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