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Providing better care for the aged

Oct 03, 2008

With average life expectancy of humans increasing, the World Health Organization’s new publication Age-friendly Primary Health Care Centres Toolkit looks at addressing the needs of the elderly. It aims to sensitise primary healthcare workers to deal with age-related ailments like immobility and memory loss.

The world is ageing and people live longer. Today, there are some 600 million persons aged 60 years and older and this number will reach virtually 2 billion in 2050.

Aged Toolkit

Increased longevity is a triumph for the public health sector in all societies; it is also the result of social and economic development. However, this trend challenges the crucial role primary health centres play in the health of older people because they have to be accessible and adapted to the needs of growing older populations.

All primary health care workers need to be well versed in the diagnosis and management of the chronic diseases and the so-called four giants of geriatrics (memory loss, urinary incontinence, depression and falls/immobility) that often impact people as they age.

The toolkit's purpose is to:

  • improve the primary health care response for older persons.
  • sensitize and educate primary health care workers about the specific needs of their older clients.
  • assist primary health workers in how to operate the geriatric care instruments/tools contained in the toolkit.
  • raise awareness of the accumulation of minor/major disabilities experienced by older people to primary health care workers.
  • provide guidance on how to make primary health care management procedures more responsive to the needs of older people's needs.
  • offer direction on how to do environmental audits to test primary health care centres for their age-friendliness.

The toolkit comprises a number of instruments (evaluation forms, slides, figures, graphs, diagrams, scale tables, country guidelines, exam sheets, screening tools, cards, checklists, etc.) that can be used by primary health care workers to assess and address older persons' health. These resources are meant to supplement and not to replace local and national materials and guidelines.

Source : WHO
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