For three decades, the government’s Healthy People series has provided science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans. Healthy People 2020 continues in this tradition, with established Leading Health Indicators that communicate highpriority health issues and necessary actions to address them.
Reducing multiple chronic conditions, preventing avoidable re-hospitalizations and creating access to quality preventive care services in underserved communities of color—these topics constitute but a small list of daily priorities for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of Minority Health and its sister HHS agencies. However, there is one healthcare topic that transcends all in terms of potential—the application of health information technology (health IT).
Last week we asked if having a global perspective on aging is important to you and for the work you do. While some replied that they had to focus on local concerns and funding issues, many commented that being informed about global aging issues enhanced their work.
It is important to have this information because this is such a big issue with so many changes coming, it is good to see how other countries are handling the changes.
Nearly 60% of those responding to our quick question said they have not been affected by sequestration yet, but expect to feel the impact in a few months. With budget cuts looming as a result of drastically reduced federal support, many in the aging network are gearing up for a tough year. Comments indicated that, in anticipation of reduced federal funds, many organizations are unable to fill vacant positions are planning to reduce or cut services, and are eliminating travel budgets for staff development and training.
Last winter in Ann Arbor, Michigan, nearly 200 leaders, planners, real estate developers, public health officials and aging services providers explored the challenges presented by an aging populace and the compelling reasons to engage in age-friendly community planning and development at a conference offered as part of the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities. The network is a collaboration between AARP and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Falls are the number one cause of injury and injury-related deaths among older adults. Fall-related injuries can impair mobility, reduce independence and participation in daily activities and result in social isolation. Also, falls often lead to an increased fear of falling, decreased physical activity, deconditioning, decreased muscle strength, balance and agility—all of which further increase the risk of falls.
Current research into brain fitness indicates that we can take steps to enhance daily performance and even lower our risk for serious memory impairment as we age. While the science is relatively young, on the whole this data supports actions already strongly correlated with improved general health—actions that hold little risk.
By John Feather, PhD, CEO, Grantmakers In Aging
Those of us who care personally and professionally about aging recognize the saying, attributed to screen legend Bette Davis, that “old age is no place for sissies.” While I could say a lot about this, I would suggest that the essential word here is “place.”