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5 Ways We Can Learn from Age-Friendly Health Systems

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Let’s face the facts: we don’t live in an age-friendly culture. However, it’s not just that our culture is youth-centered. It’s also that our culture doesn’t acknowledge the range of lived experiences that come with age. As individuals, we experience the world according to our unique background, culture, and, yes, age. So what does it mean to become a more age-friendly world? What is the dream we’re envisioning? Age-friendly health systems have been on the rise in the last few years. There’s truly so much we can learn from an age-friendly model.

Age-Friendly Health Systems: An Innovation Towards Possibility

In the simplest of terms, an age-friendly health system places importance on what matters most to older adults. As a result, there is a deeper, more well-rounded understanding of the basic needs and wants of older adults. In addition, an age-friendly system intends to create a system that’s easy to navigate, accessible, and welcoming to seniors.

Not only are these systems aware of the physical needs of older adults, but they also incorporate emotional and mental needs. We’ve seen this in countries like The Netherlands with the creation of Dementia Village. Although this example is specific to dementia cases, it shows us the range of possibilities for older adults.

So how can we learn from these innovative systems? First, we can incorporate the principles that make up the foundation of age-friendly systems into our work with older adults. These simple, revolutionary, and novel concepts can transform everyday services for seniors. 

Age-Friendly Communities & Their Basic Principles

Here’s what we can take away from an age-friendly model of health:

1. More Outdoor Time & Physical Activity 

We often underestimate the importance of movement and sunlight, especially the combination of the two. A person’s environment profoundly influences mental, emotional, and physical health. In an age-friendly health system, exercise and sunlight are prioritized. Not only this but creating paths that are walkable and accessible to seniors is vital, as well.

2. Community & Connection

Unfortunately, social isolation tends to increase with age. More than just residing in their community, older adults also want to feel like they’re a part of their community. Promoting community events will foster a sense of inclusion and belonging. 

3. Accurate Information, Communication, & Knowledge 

Keeping older adults informed, in the loop, and aware of all matters of health is essential in an age-friendly community. Within a residence, this looks like posting on bulletin boards or creating flyers for community events. This also means communicating directly, effectively, and accurately with seniors regarding their health and wellness.

4. Accessible Transportation

Transportation allows seniors to participate in social, cultural, or community events easily. Additionally, accessible transit makes it easier to get to-and-from doctor’s appointments. For seniors, there’s often a sense of fear associated with losing their license or independence. To create an age-friendly system, transportation must be readily accessible.

5. Actively Work Against Ageism

The discrimination against older adults is also known as ageism. Ageism shows up in several ways. Generally, there’s a cultural consensus that older adults should be pushed to the side or treated as incapable. This couldn’t be farther from the way. However, an age-friendly model is much more than creating accessible buildings, transportation, and communities. It’s also about infusing a positive attitude about older adults into everything we do. It’s about creating a new culture in which older adults are treated with respect, reverence, and dignity.

Age-Friendly is More Than What Meets the Eye

Here at A Better Solution in Home Care, we care deeply about giving seniors the services they deserve. Our in-home services help seniors cultivate a sense of independence while still honoring their medical and emotional needs. If you’re curious about our work, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.

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