Helping older people to remain healthier for longer is the business of all healthcare professionals, according to a new report
Healthier for Longer’, a new report published by the British Geriatrics Society, examines how messages of prevention and healthy ageing apply to an older population group that may already be ill and frail, and to the healthcare professionals who care for them.
The prevention agenda, which has been highlighted as a priority for the Government and for health services, is explored in the report and shown to be as relevant to the older population as it is to younger age groups. 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.
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). While the benefits of prevention in younger populations may take many years to come to fruition, prevention measures in older people, even those who are already ill and/or living with frailty, can produce immediate results.
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, nursing and therapy teams, families and the older person themselves to give the best chance of recovery and independence.
You can download the report here
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