"If I'd known I was gonna live this long, I'd have taken better care of myself." These were the words of Eubie Blake, who died 5 days after his hundredth birthday.
These words probably reflect the thoughts of a majority of the geriatric population. Life expectancy has increased in the past few years. The World Health Organization estimates that by 2050, 2 billion people, that is, 1 out of every 4 persons will be older than 60 years of age. Eighty percent among these will be living in the less-developed countries, which may not have the infrastructure to manage this population.
AdvertisementIncreasing age brings about a multitude of health problems. Mobility gets restricted due to ailments like arthritis and stroke. Memory gets affected due to conditions like Alzheimer's disease. All these factors lead to reduced social interaction and isolation, often making the last few days the saddest part of the lifetime.
Keeping this in mind, the theme of the World Health Day this year deals with Aging and Health and is aptly titled: Good Health Adds Life to Years.
How can the latter few years of life become more livable? One way is to ensure that middle-aged adults take adequate care of their health and tackle health issues at the earliest. Our current stress-filled lives have increased our health problems. Regular screening and early treatment of these issues could prevent them from worsening in later life.
How can older individuals continue to lead a productive and social life? One way to achieve this is by using latest technologies. Various devices could help to improve the health of the elderly population. For example, a simple mobile phone can keep an elderly connected with his or her health-care professional. The phone can also serve as a reminder to take medications on time.
It is also important to understand the needs of the elderly within the society and to make the surroundings friendly for them. For example, public transport should be made easy to use. Medical clinics and pharmacies should be easily accessible.
With the increasing number of elderly individuals, it has become important to concentrate on the health of this group to ensure that they lead a comfortable and productive life, even in the later years. Adequate measures to ensure good health will enable them to live life at the fullest and with dignity till the very end.