People are living longer than ever before. In our later years, we continue to contribute to our families and communities—whether it’s as caregivers or financial providers. These contributions, however, are not possible without good health. When an older person’s health declines, so do livelihoods.
That’s why we’re committed to extending health in older age. Because when older people are healthier longer, whole communities are more resilient to the threats of poverty.
Health care systems, however, are not adequately prepared for the needs of an aging population.
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes and hypertension are now the number one cause of death globally. It’s in low and middle-income countries where this changing disease burden is happening fastest.
Too often, health care facilities are inaccessible for older people. They may be located too far away or not connected by public transit. Costs of health care and medicine can also be prohibitively expensive.
In low-income countries, the gap in healthcare workers is projected to rise to 12.9 million by 2035. And due to rural-urban migration, older people often lack the traditional family support structures of generations past.
To realize the Sustainable Development Goal’s target of universal health coverage, we must take a holistic approach to strengthening health systems. For us, that means working at all levels. We start with communities because we know that good health begins at home—with healthy habits and strong social networks. Our programs also engage health care providers on increasing access to services and governments on improving policy.
Only through partnership and collaboration can we hope to ensure good health is part and parcel with longevity.
Here’s how we work at all levels – from grassroots programming to national-level advocacy.
We train home-based caregivers, promote health education, and mobilize advocacy for better health services. Through older people’s associations, we set up NCD screenings and data monitoring on health services.
Hospitals and clinics in low- and middle-income countries often lack the capacity and resources to care for NCDs and conditions that accompany old age. HelpAge trains health providers on NCDs and geriatric conditions.
HelpAge works with ministries of health to develop national health plans and training manuals for health workers. We also call for governments to adopt inclusive data collection practices and technical guidelines on NCDs and nutrition.
See our work in action
Learn how HelpAge is working with partners in 4 African countries to improve access to health services
Learn how HelpAge is working across 9 countries to jumpstart community-based health initiatives.
Learn how we are helping older Syrian refugees and local host communities manage diabetes and hypertension.