Health is defined by the World health Organisation (WHO) as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”. This definition was made in 1948 when the WHO was founded and has not been amended since.
Yesterday, 7th April, was the WHO’s annual World Health Day. This year the focus was on older people and based on the slogan:
‘Good health adds life to years’
You can visit the website using this link http://www.who.int/world-health-day/en/ to read more, see the inspiring photo gallery and find lots of useful links and articles. The basis of the campaign to improve older people’s health is that ‘healthy behaviours throughout life can help older men and women lead full and productive lives and be a resource for their families and communities’.
Reading this statement re-inforced for me the potential of the Lifestyle Redesign® occupational therapy approach that was the focus of my recent travel award. The approach uses an occupational, or ‘doing’ approach to help people to incorporate health-promoting behaviours in their lives. This can begin as later years approach, a preventative method (see E describing the Well Elderly studies), or could be developed once older age has arrived- I am looking at developing the approach in my own practice for older people at the ‘hopsital/home interface’.
The WHO’s press release for the World Health Day outlines the following 4 actions for governments and societies:
1. Promote good health and healthy behaviours at all ages to prevent or delay the development of chronic diseases.
2. Minimize the consequences of chronic disease through early detection and quality care (primary, long-term and palliative care).
3. Create physical and social environments that foster the health and participation of older people.
4. "Reinvent ageing" - changing social attitudes to build a society in which older people are respected and valued.
All of these are reflected in current government policy. Occupational Therapy and OTs can contribute a great deal to this agenda.