Updated: Jan 12
It has been estimated by the World Population Ageing 2020 Highlights that, there were 727 million persons aged 65 years or over worldwide. The proportion of older persons in the global population is expected to increase from 9.3 per cent in 2020 to 16.0 per cent in 2050. Not only is the increase alarming but by 2050, 80% of the elderly worldwide will be living in low- and middle-income countries. This demographic shift will be challenging for governments, communities and households of such countries including the St Kitts and Nevis. According to public health experts, new advances in medicine and living standards have resulted in longer life expectancies around the world. Are our social and health systems ready or preparing for the tsunami of issues associated with the aging of Baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) and the needs of their seniors currently in our communities? Is living longer lives today, living better? Is aging in place beneficial?
So what is healthy aging and aging in place?
Healthy ageing is about creating the environments and opportunities that enable people to be and do what they value throughout their lives. Its engaging in activities which continue to improve health and well-being in later life. Aging healthily has nothing to do with having a disease or infirmity and being free of diseases is not a requirement for healthy ageing, since many older adults have one or more health conditions. From the perspective of the WHO, healthy aging emphasizes the development of and maintenance of functional abilities, including: bathing, dressing, and other independent living skills, such as shopping and housework in older age.
Each person, in any country, should have the opportunity to live a long and healthy life. However, the surroundings in which we live can either favor health or be harmful to it. The surroundings of older persons are highly influential on their behaviors, their exposure to health risks such as violence or abuse, their access to quality health and social care and the opportunities that ageing brings. As such, and in my opinion, the living arrangements and family support for older persons will always be extremely important to them aging healthily.
How can one promote and support healthy aging at home?
Aging in place means that an older person is able to live in the place of their choice (be it home, an assisted residential living apartment or living with someone) without losing their quality of life. Ideally, aging in place should address not only maintaining the quality of life that the person is used to, but also to make it better whenever possible. The ability to live in one's own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level contributes to healthy aging at home. Planning ahead for aging at home may be hard, because you never know how your needs might change. Accessibility and safety become important factors when considering whether one could stay at home while aging. However, there are measures that can be taken if staying in your home is important to you or your loved one. Three of the predominant areas of concern are safety, getting around and activities of daily life. Today we share tips from the National Institute on Aging which may be useful in making the home safe and accessible for your aging loved one.