Healthy aging and how it improves your functional ability read

Dec 28 2020


Healthy aging is about creating environments and opportunities that enable people to be and do what they value most.

Each person in this world should have the opportunity to lead a long and healthy life. Being free of disease and weakness is not a requirement for healthy aging. You might have one or more health conditions, which, when controlled well have little effect on your wellbeing. Everyone can experience healthy aging.

The environments in which you live can either favor or harm your health. Environments are highly influenced by your behaviour, exposure to health risks, and access to quality health and social care.

Relation Between Healthy Aging and Functional Ability

World Health Organization (WHO) defines healthy aging as the process of developing and maintaining the functional ability that enables wellbeing in older age. Your functional ability allows you to be and do what you value. It is made up of your intrinsic capacity, relevant environmental characteristics, and the interaction between them.

Functional ability relates to your ability to do the following:

  • Be mobile and pay attention to physical health
  • Learn, grow and make decisions
  • Build and maintain relationships
  • Contribute to society

A greater focus on physical, cognitive, and social function can prevent many issues typically seen in the population over the age of 60.

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How to Improve Your Functional Ability

Physical function

A physically active lifestyle contributes to an improvement in function by way of independence, ability to work, and the capability of doing some physical activity daily. Improved function and physical health lessens disability and enforces self-confidence in life.

Cognitive function

Intrinsic capacity contributes to all our mental and physical capabilities. It includes our ability to see, hear, walk, think, and remember. The level of intrinsic capacity is dependent on many factors like the presence of injuries, diseases, and age-related changes.

Social function

The environment that a person lives in comprises of the home, community, and society. It also includes factors within them like people, their relationships, attitudes, values, the built environment, health policies, social policies, the system and its services. Living in environments that support your intrinsic capacity and functional ability is vital for healthy aging.

You can take up a life course approach to do your functional assessment. This helps you discover functional declines before their effects fully emerge. For example, you can assess changes in your strength and balance ability before they become big issues like function or mobility issues. The correct time for your first assessment is when you reach your mid-30s. From there, a functional assessment can be done every year.

You can focus on how physical activity can impact your physical, cognitive, and social function. For example, a strength training program can help you maintain your basic functional abilities like using a toilet or getting up out of a chair with ease.

Also, professional programs, policies, and environments may best serve the older population by promoting the importance of functional ability. Regular physical activity is key to your ability to stay independent with age and improve quality of life.


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