Healthy ageing is a process that includes various behaviour and choices that affect health, such as regular physical activity, good dietary choices, regular family contact and social activities, as well as resilience to life’s circumstances. The goal of healthy ageing is to enable the elderly to maintain their health into old age, which allows them to contribute to the workforce longer, and engage in society better. This increases economic growth, but also decreases the use of health services by the elderly, who are the largest users of the health care system. Many people believe poor health comes with age, but this is not the case. Many chronic diseases and some disability are preventable and are not inevitable with aging. Healthy ageing involves people reducing their risk factors for disease, and preventing the progression of the disease after its onset and reducing morbidity and mortality. Encouraging health across the lifespan will help improve the health of future generation, if they may healthy choices to prevent risk factors. Another aspect of healthy ageing, is using broader strategies to improve the management of chronic diseases and multi-morbidity, which will help enable healthy ageing.
As the government seeks to promote healthy ageing it aims to:
- prevent disease,
- reduce illness and illness periods,
- maintain economic contributions, and
- maintain social participation
These goals are achieved by helping people to make good healthy choices and develop healthy behaviours throughout each stage of life. Ultimately healthy ageing improves Quality Of Life (QOL) and decreases Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) which are used to measure disease burden.
Health care professionals, who provide advice about lifestyle, managing disease, and avoiding complications, enable healthy ageing. Other programs aim to improve balance in order to avoid falls and fractures in the elderly. Many elderly desire to remain in their own home as long as possible, which requires independence and/or health and social services in the community. People who live in accessible homes and take responsibility for their situation have a better sense of wellbeing and independence.
Better health is associated with employment, thus healthy ageing can bring health gains and increase their work and community activity, which improves wellbeing. There is currently an increasing trend for the elderly to stay in employment beyond the retirement age. Many older unemployed people, however, believe they are seen as too old by employers and do not actively seek work, even though they want employment.