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Expert Comment: World Health Day

0139 Dr Mark McAuley Wednesday 9 April 2014

Dr Mark Mc Auley, Lecturer in Nutrition and ageing researcher at Liverpool Hope, on the challenges posed by an ageing population.

 HelpAge International (http://www.helpage.org/) campaigns for the rights of older people to help this group of the population lead dignified and healthy lives. HelpAge International highlighted World Health Day (Monday 7th April) as an important day for healthy ageing as this is World Health Day.

 Politicians, health care professionals and the public generally need to be aware that societies are changing and that the demographic imperative of ageing has to be given more recognition. If the United Kingdom is taken as an example, it is predicted that by the year 2051 25% of the UK population will be over 65 years of age, while it is also estimated that 5% of the population will be over 85 years of age; the so-called ‘oldest old’.  

Due to this dramatic shift in population demographics the health of older people is of paramount importance. Unfortunately at present the extra years we are gaining are not always healthy ones, as conditions such as cardiovascular disease (CVD) invariably persist into older age; hampering quality of life for older people.

It is vital that we improve our mechanistic understanding of age related diseases such as CVD so that improved strategies can be developed to improve the health of older people. Novel research approaches such as mathematical modelling has the potential to offer new insights into the mechanistic complexities of age related disease and will in the future help to inform healthy ageing strategies.

Another date which is of paramount importance is 1st of October, as this has been designated by the United Nations as an international day of older people and that it is key that we use days such as this to celebrate the positive contribution that older people make to society and to ponder how we can all contribute to the wellbeing of older people.

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