Age-friendly primary health care: background
There is growing consensus among policy-makers that societies, including those experiencing rapid population ageing, can afford to grow old if they implement policies that:
- prevent or delay the onset of disabilities for as long as possible
- help individuals to remain independent and active as they age
Enabling processes, such as making PHC centres more age-friendly, can prevent or delay chronic diseases and restore functional capacity, thus improving the overall well-being of older people and facilitating their integration in society.
Age-friendly recommendations for PHC centres include:
- making the PHC centre accessible through "universal design"
- making available assistive devices that increase functional capacity
- providing codes of "age-friendly" conduct for primary health care staff
- improving general procedures to be followed in the area of social care, i.e. facilitating a smooth transition from acute care centers to home-based care
- promoting an inclusive approach by focusing on the entire family, including its older members
Age-friendly primary health care not only benefits older people, but also enables other segments of the population who temporarily need assistance to maintain independence. An age-friendly primary health care centre does not favour older people but benefits society as a whole in line with the slogan of the UN International Year of Older Persons "Towards a Society for All Ages".
It is anticipated that age-friendly primary health care centres will provide inspiration and lead to the development of age-friendly standards in other areas, such as public transport, housing and environmental modifications.