Report: Prevention and health promotion should be for older people too

Public health campaigns often forget to address the older generation, it is argued in a report on the health of older people in Europe.

report on the State of Ageing in Europe criticises the fact that health promotion and public health campaigns tend to focus on changing behaviours only in younger people. It states that “prevention is for older people too” and lists a healthy diet, non-smoking, physical exercise and moderate alcohol use as the main factors of healthy ageing.

The report, jointly authored by the International Longevity Centre-UK and the Merck Company Foundation, also gives an overview of the health inequalities among older people in the EU-25. It states, for example, that life expectancy ranges from 71 years in Estonia to 80 in Italy, the EU-25 average being 78 years. Life expectancy is said to be, on average, 4 years lower in the EU-10, with the exception of Cyprus and Malta, who are closer to the EU-15. Most of the differences are due to differences in treatable and preventable mortality. To remedy these variations, the report proposes targeted public health and health promotion campaigns. 

“From a policy perspective, age needs to be considered as part of the health inequalities debate,” said the executive director of the ILC-UK, Sally Greengross, calling policy makers to collect more data on the needs of an ageing population and to introduce older people’s needs into the planning, organisation and delivery of health care services.

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