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What social programmes work the best to include older people?

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Posted January 31, 2018

We live in a strange world. Everyone is ageing and it is accepted, but somehow older people find themselves excluded from the society.  So much so that World Health Organization is promoting programmes that encourage age-friendly environments. Now scientists from Newcastle and Liverpool universities conducted a research to evaluate effectiveness of such initiatives.

Maintaining social relations is very important for the wellbeing of older people. Image credit: צולם ע”י צביקה שיאון via Wikimedia(CC BY 2.5)

We tend to think that we respect out elderly. And maybe we do when we give them our seat in the bus, help the cross the street or even vote for changes that allow them to live independently for longer. However, all these efforts do not change the fact that older people are generally excluded from social activities. That is why scientists are saying that efforts to create inclusive social environments that are age-friendly and respectful towards older people are the most effective. Age-friendly environments also help assessing two of the greatest demographic challenges that the future is holding for us – ageing and urbanization.

Population ageing and a rapid urbanization is putting a lot of stress on social and health care systems. In fact, some speculate that these challenges pay drive welfare to the limit in many places in the world. Team of researchers reviewed 25 years’ worth of international research papers. They wanted to identify the range of initiatives promoting respect and social inclusion of older people. The main of this research was on initiatives that target community-residing older people, who are 60 years of age or older. This allowed scientists to see which tools and activities work the best in terms of including older people into societal life.

Probably the most important goals of such programmes are promoting health, wellbeing and the quality of life of older people. Scientists found that music and singing, intergenerational initiatives, art and culture, and multi-activity interventions, such as health promotion, worked the best towards that goal. It is also important that these activities helped older people to feel valued and promoted relationship with others. Dr Sara Ronzi, from the University of Liverpool, said: “In current efforts to promote age-friendly environments, we hope that these findings will support local public health practitioners, policy makers, charities, and researchers to carry out and evaluate initiatives promoting respect and social inclusion that are likely to improve older people’s health and wellbeing”.

Ageing is inevitable. However, we have to find ways to approach these later stages of life with dignity and happiness. Social inclusion programmes may be the best way forward.

 

Source: Newcastle University

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