Health policies for older adults: thoughts for action

The speed of growth of the population of older adults has been much faster than expected in every country. In Chile today one out of ten persons is an older adult and in the next twenty years this proportion will duplicate. Population aging is a success of development but also presents a medical and social challenge. The health issues of the National Policy addressing the needs of the older population in Chile are severely delayed in their implementation due to the lack of human resources trained in medicine of older adults and geriatric services. The consensus evidence on how to develop appropriate geriatric health services for older adults should include services coordinated in a continuum, including health promotion and disease prevention targeting older people to achieve “healthy aging” in the majority of the older population; outpatient health care services; acute care in hospitals with physicians trained in geriatrics; special services for geriatric rehabilitation and restoration of function (short term care) and a variety of settings and services offering long term care ranging from home to institutions. To be able to implement this vision of appropriate, coordinated and integrated health and social services for older people, the country needs a minimum number of geriatricians (at least 260), health care teams trained in the basics of geriatrics and continuing development of human resources to meet the increasing demand on health services by the fast growing older population.

Centro de GeriatrĂ­a y GerontologĂ­a UC, Chile. ppmarin@med.puc.cl
PMID: 17505587 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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