Health Screening and Health Promotion Programs for the Elderly
As the population of elderly people worldwide continues to grow, successful aging has risen to the top of the health policy agenda. The definition of successful aging includes the maintenance of physical and mental function, as well as continued social engagement. Given this definition, maintaining health-related quality of life (HR-QOL) should be a key goal for nutrition and physical activity programs targeted toward the elderly. HR-QOL encompasses physical functioning necessary for unassisted living, as well as broader domains of mental functioning and overall life satisfaction. This review examines the relationship between health parameters and HR-QOL, and assesses the degree to which these relationships are addressed in existing screening and promotion programs. In many cases, nutrition screening and evaluation tools have focused on biomedical measures, such as bodyweight, body fat, or plasma lipids, without taking QOL into account. While HR-QOL has been considered in a few health promotion campaigns, a more balanced perspective on wellness and health among the elderly is needed for the design of effective policies and programs. Successful aging can depend on such factors as race, ethnicity, education, and access to economic and social resources. Intervention programs reviewed include those that address nutritional status, physical activity, and mental health issues among community-dwelling elderly. A comprehensive approach to promoting health in aging would incorporate indicators of wellbeing, and would specifically address nutrition and physical activity issues alongside HR-QOL. Public health policies reviewed here are designed to create an infrastructure to promote healthy aging and offer support to the growing elderly population.
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