Health Promotion for Older Adults: What Is the Potential? 11th Annual Herbert Lourie Memorial Lecture on Health Policy
As a greater number of people reach old age, medicine is challenged to develop new approaches to this population. Health promotion, not just treatment of disease but improving the quality of life for older persons, must play a role. What happens to individuals in terms of health status as they get older, and what are the implications for health care needs? Where should we focus to get the biggest benefits in terms of health promotion? Overall, we have learned a tremendous amount over the last 25 years about the components of health as people get older, and what modifies their health. We know, for example, that the health status of older adults is a composite of the chronic diseases that they may have, of how many chronic diseases are present, and of underlying physiological changes of aging, such as a decline in muscle strength, that appear to be an intrinsic part of the aging process. Disability can result from chronic disease. In addition, people are more susceptible to acute illnesses and injuries as they get older.
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