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Holistic Approach to Successful Aging Essay


Introduction

According to World Health Organization, a country with more than ten percent aging populace is referred to as a state of aging society. An aging populace of more than twenty percent of the whole inhabitants is called an absolute aging society. In the US, there were 44.69 million individuals above the age of sixty-five in the year 2013 (Calasanti, 2015). They represent 14% of the American population.

It is estimated that by mid of this century, there would be more than 97 million aging persons. The figures are twice the number obtained in the year 2013 (Calasanti, 2015). Based on the above statistics, it is apparent that the USA will experience an absolute aging society in the future. The elderly will be relying on the American population to meet their health budget and overall spending. The article below focuses on a holistic approach to healthy aging. The approach will focus on five dimensions. They are healthy eating, injury prevention, physical activity, substance abuse cessation, and social connectedness.

Healthy aging and life expectancy

One of the great accomplishments of healthcare in the 21st century is an improvement in life expectancy. For instance, demographic figures indicate that life expectancy in America has increased from 45 years in the early 1900s to 75.6 in the year 2004 (Andel, 2010). The improvement in life expectancy is attributed to Americans adopting healthier lifestyles. Unlike in the past, more people are more aware of approaches to prevent and manage chronic disease.

Unlike in the past, more people are on healthier diets and exercise regularly. Nevertheless, improved life expectancy joint with decreasing birth rates is becoming a major concern in today’s society. Across the globe, the population is aging. The situation is being experienced at a time when the number of people required in the workforce is increasing raising fears over its impacts on the society. As such, diverse age groups have various desires and productive capabilities. Therefore, countries’ social, economic, political, and environmental features will vary as their population ages.

With an enhanced life expectancy, healthy aging is becoming a concern for most Americans (Stevens-Ratchford & Diaz, 2003). Healthy aging approaches focuses on enhancing prospects for good health with the aim of encouraging the elderly to engage in community roles and attain unrestricted and high quality of lifetime. An awareness of healthy aging should be promoted among the elderly. They should be informed that getting older is normal. However, their health conditions as they age rely on family and their lifestyle choices. If the population adopt healthy lifestyles and adopt ways of managing stress, they will be able to age healthily. Through this, the life expectancy of Americans will increase.

Physiology and psychology of aging

Aging is inescapable. As life expectancy improves, it becomes more significant to comprehend physiological changes related to the usual aging procedure. Upholding health among the elderly will help to decrease the burden caused by this population on the current healthcare systems. Among the physiological changes experienced by the aging population are the loss of teeth, loss of sensory memory, changes in the gastrointestinal system, dementia, hormonal imbalance, and changes in the musculoskeletal system. The elderly have a fewer muscle mass implying that thy have a lesser amount of generating apparatus. Besides, they have weakened neurotransmission leading to fewer capabilities or yearnings to initiate activities. An understanding of the physiology of aging procedures will be very helpful in developing a holistic approach to successful aging.

Psychological issues are also very common among the elderly. Researchers have indicated that worry and stress are very rampant in the aging populations (Hsu, 2010). Despair, tension, fear of death, health illnesses increases anxiety conditions in this group. The society should be sociable the group can help in mitigating anxiety disorders. Loneliness is another psychological problem common among the elderly. During their retirement from work, most parents have fully grown up children. The siblings are normally away from them due to marriage or job obligations. In this respect, the circle of friends around the elderly is reduced making them lonely.

Depression, loneliness, and abandonment cause hopelessness and other health disorders in the aging population. An understanding of phycology of aging will be very helpful in developing a holistic approach to successful aging. Psychology knowledge can aid during decision-making processes aimed at supporting quality of life for the elderly population.

Factors that influence healthy aging and life expectancy

Several factors affect healthy aging and longevity. They include genes, individual behaviors, and social and economic factors. A recent study indicated that monozygotic twins exhibit a more analogous lifetime compared with heterozygotic twins (Oeppen, 2008). The research confirmed that there is a definite inheritability of predisposition to continued existence from parents to offspring. It has also been observed that single-gene alterations affect the lifetime of C elegans. The above experiments indicate that genes are paramount in understanding the aging process. It is estimated that genes are responsible for twenty-five percent of what influences life expectancy.

Another factor that influences healthy aging is individual behaviors. People who adopt healthy behaviors will exhibit healthy aging. Some common health practices are taking physical exercise frequently, adopting a balanced diet, and obtaining essential immunizations. Socio-economic factors can also affect healthy aging and life expectancy. They comprise of income, education levels, surroundings, and social features.

They are the conditions in which persons are born, exists, labor, have fun, intermingle, and age. At every stage of aging, the health of an individual is influenced by various interactions among socioeconomic features, the surrounding, and personal behaviors. Prosperity, social status, and funds determine these factors. In turn, the above also affect strategies and choices leading to dissimilarities in health services received by persons and populations. Though these factors affect health outcomes in every phase of aging, the accumulative influence of socio-economic situations on health results is more distinct as persons get old. Normally, populations from low socio-economic rank have less healthy aging and reduced life expectancy. On the other hand, individuals from populations with higher socioeconomic levels have an enhanced healthy aging and improved life expectancy.

The theories of aging

Aging concepts are categorized into three. They are genetic, biochemical, and physiological theories. Genetic theories focus on suppositions concerning the identity of aging genetic factors, the buildup of errors in the genetic apparatus, encoded senescence, and telomeres. Biochemical theories deal with energy breakdown, production of free radicals, the rate of existing, and condition of mitochondria. Physiological theories focus on endocrine structures and the functions of hormones in controlling the percentage of cellular senescence.

Some of the most common concepts are disengagement theory, activity theory, and neuroendocrine theory. Disengagement theory illustrates that individual’s relationship with the society lessens with age. It postulates that the elderly are less engaged with social activities as they were in their adulthood. Activity theory asserts that an individual’s self-concept is linked with his or her responsibilities. For instance, retiring might not have influence on a person who enthusiastically upholds other social roles.

The neuroendocrine theory suggests that wear and tear in human bodies are controlled by the neuroendocrine system. The structure is a complex network of biochemical, which regulates how and when hormones should be released. They work in conjunction with the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus oversees numerous chain responses to initiate other glands to discharge their hormones. However, as individuals grow old, the hypothalamus drops it supervisory accuracy capability and the receptors that rely on hormones become less reactive to them.

The model that aligns with the proposed approach is activity theory. The theory postulates that to uphold an affirmative sense of self, people ought to find new responsibilities as they age to replace lost roles after retirement. Through this, prospects for good health will be enhanced with the aim of encouraging the elderly to engage in community functions and attain unrestricted and high quality of lifetime.

Health promotion and disease prevention strategies for healthy aging

If appropriate health promotion and disease prevention strategies for healthy aging are adopted, a reduction in demand for medical services and expenses will be experienced. Our approach focuses on five strategies recognized as vital for healthy aging. They are healthy eating, injury prevention, physical activity, substance abuse cessation, and social connectedness. Existing strategies focus on caring for the elderly. However, our proposed strategies concentrate on mitigating and managing conditions that compromise on healthy aging.

The first approach will be to enhance healthy eating among the elderly. The aging should put more efforts to regulate their food intake. They should eat a variety of foods with all the needed nutrients to ensure that they have balanced diets. Similarly, they should consume home-prepared meals as much as possible with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Equally, the elderly should be cautious to ensure that they limit the consumption of high-fat foods, high sugar foods, and sugars sweeten soft drinks. As such, healthy dieting is vital for the elderly to continue being independent, sustain their quality of life, and decrease the threat of contracting protracted disorders like hypertensions and cardiovascular diseases.

Another strategy that should be focused on is injury prevention. Among the aging communities, accidental injuries present costly expenses to the health care system. The injuries also pose serious threat to the health of the seniors. The approach suggests that all the risk factors linked with accidental injuries among the elderly should be identified. After that, appropriate mitigation strategies should be put in place to reduce the threats.

An additional approach that should be used to enhance healthy aging is physical activity. Physical exercise offers numerous benefits and considerably upholds healthy aging. To increase physical activity among the elderly, they must be prepared psychologically to enjoy the activities. By doing so, the aging will find it a habit of engaging in physical activity. The above initiatives can be achieved by encouraging the seniors to participate in community programs emphasizing in physical education. Similarly, they should be encouraged to engage in sports. Physical inactivity is associated with premature death, chronic diseases, illness, and disability, as well as reduced quality of life and independence.

The elderly should also cease from substance abuse. Substance abuse among the elderly is considered a major problem in America. The aging people are a predominantly susceptible because of the unprecedented challenges encountered by the group. As such, the aging is more likely to be ignored compared with the younger generation. Abuse of alcohol and tobacco makes them vulnerable to chronic disease such as cancer. Equally, the habit makes them susceptible to accidental injuries. Therefore, awareness should be created in the group to sensitize them about the risk posed by substance abuse.

Lastly, the elderly should be encouraged to be socially connected. Social care leads to improved quality of life, enhanced life gratification, and improved mental and physical health. On the contrary, isolation increases chances of developing depression, which is linked to the development of chronic diseases among the elderly. In this regard, the aging should sacrifice more time for social support.

Analyze medical care and mental health services for older people

In America, the aging spends a third of the allotted healthcare expenses. The cost is estimated at $300 billion annually (Ferrini, 2013). Experts allege that the cost of treating an elderly person is three times higher than treating an adult.

The aging population is subscribed to health care cover through Medicare. Medicare is responsible for meeting the expenses incurred by this group. However, it should be noted that the program has not been vigorously engaged in endorsing a better delivery system for the elderly. Medicare should put more emphasis on promoting defensive, outcome-based medicine, which is very helpful to the aging population. The above initiative will boost our program by enhancing the health of the aging population.

Management of mental illnesses among aging Americans is also considered an essential public health necessity. The number of elderly persons with psychiatric ailments is expected to reach 8 million in the next two decades (Ferrini, 2013). In America, primary care physicians manage many older people with mental challenges. However, the numerous burdens of primary care offer considerable difficulties to such care.

Analyze the future directions of aging and the care of the older population

In the future, aging population is expected to increase (Ferrini, 2013). In this regard, future directions for the aging and their care should be developed. As such, the society should be preparing to come up with improved compensation and cover systems focused on long-term care. The systems should function better than the existing ones. Similarly, the society will be expected to utilize modern developments healthcare and behavioral health to sustain the health of the elderly. The society should also plan to amend the way it manages community services. All the services should be accessible to the aging population as much as possible. The cultural perception of the elderly should be changed to enable them to get integrated into the society.

The goals of the above directions should be focused on enhancing the proposed approach. As such, they should be customized to enhance healthy eating, injury prevention, physical activity, substance abuse cessation, and social connectedness.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it should be noted that the USA would experience an absolute aging society in the future. The elderly will be relying on the American population to meet their health budget and overall spending. Therefore, appropriate strategies should be adopted to manage the condition. The approach proposed above focus on healthy eating, injury prevention, physical activity, substance abuse cessation, and social connectedness.

References

Andel, R. (2010). Successful Cognitive and Emotional Aging. JAMA, 303(19), 19-23. Web.

Calasanti, T. (2015). Combating Ageism: How Successful Is Successful Aging?. The Gerontologist, 27(3-4), 19-37. Web.

Ferrini, A.(2013). Health in the later years (5th ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill. Web.

Hsu, H. (2010). Trajectory of Life Satisfaction and its Relationship with Subjective Economic Status and Successful Aging. Soc Indic Res, 99(3), 455-468. Web.

Oeppen, J. (2008). Longer Life and Healthy Aging. Eur J Population, 24(2), 237-238. Web.

Stevens-Ratchford, R., & Diaz, T. (2003). Promoting Successful Aging Through Occupation. An Examination of Engagement in Life. Activities, Adaptation & Aging, 27(3-4), 19-37. Web.

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IvyPanda. "Holistic Approach to Successful Aging." June 30, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/holistic-approach-to-successful-aging/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Holistic Approach to Successful Aging." June 30, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/holistic-approach-to-successful-aging/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Holistic Approach to Successful Aging'. 30 June.

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