Provide better health services for older people
World Health Organization ( WHO) is spearheading the call for a new approach in providing health services for the older people.
The call was made in connection with the recent celebration of the International Day of the Older Person, highlighting the role of primary care and the contribution of community health workers in keeping older people healthier for longer.
The organization also emphasizes the importance of integrating services for different conditions.
It said that by the year 2050, 1 in 5 people in the world will be aged 60 and older.
“It’s our goal to ensure that all older people can obtain the health services they need, whoever they are, wherever they live,” says Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO.
In a latest survey of 11 high-income countries, up to 41 percent of older adults (aged ≥65 years) reported care coordination problems in the past two years.
WHO’s new Guidelines on Integrated Care for Older People recommend ways that community-based services can help prevent, slow or reverse declines in physical and mental capacities among older people.
The guidelines also require health and social care providers to coordinate their services around the needs of older people through approaches such as comprehensive assessment and care plans.
“The world’s health systems aren’t ready for older populations,” says Dr. John Beard, Director of the Department of Ageing and Life course at WHO.
Everyone at all levels of health and social care, from front-line providers through to senior leaders, has a role to play to help improve the health of older people. The new guidelines of WHO provide the evidence for primary care workers to put the comprehensive needs of older people, not just the diseases they come in to discuss, at the center of the way they provide care.
Older adults are more likely to experience chronic conditions and often multiple conditions at the same time.
Yet today’s health systems generally focus on the detection and treatment of individual acute diseases.
“If health systems are to meet the needs of older populations, they must provide ongoing care focused on the issues that matter to older people – chronic pain, and difficulties with hearing, seeing, walking or performing daily activities,” Beard added. “This will require much better integration between care providers.”
Some countries are already making smart investments guided by WHO’s Global Strategy on Ageing and Health.
Brazil has implemented comprehensive assessments and expanded its services for older adults; Japan has integrated long -term care insurance to protect people from the costs of care; Thailand is strengthening the integration of health and social care as close as possible to where people live; while the Ministry of Health in Vietnam will build on its comprehensive health care system and the large number of elderly health care clubs to better meet the needs of older people in their communities.
Integrated care can help foster inclusive economic growth, improve health and wellbeing, and ensure older people have the opportunity to contribute to development, instead of being left behind. com/ PN)
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