The Elderly and Preventive Health Care

A new study recently published in a peer-reviewed open-access journal PLOS Medicine showed that when elderly people participate in health risk assessments and personalized counseling regarding health care matters, they tend to be more aware of the health risks that age maturation might bring them and are thus more likely to take preventative steps towards ensuring that they are not exposed to such risks.

Andreas Stuck of the University Hospital Bern of Switzerland, the study’s lead author, said they were able to convince 874 healthy elderly people over the age of 65 to fill out questionnaires seeking to find out potential health risk factors that are particularly relevant to old age.

Stuck said that the study, which was conducted between the years 2000 and 2002, found out that “prevention [of health risks] in old age is likely effective, but only if risk assessment is combined with individualized counseling over an extended period of time”.

After the two-year study, the researchers compared the risk assessment group to another group composed of 1,000 people who were not subjected to constant counseling and health risk assessment surveys. The researchers found out that 70% of the people who completed the health risk assessments continued to exercise and engage in physical activitie and that 66% of them made it a point to get seasonal flu vaccines, as compared with 62% and 59% of the comparison group, respectively.

Also, after eight years, Stuck added, 78% of the elderly people who engage in health risk assessment were still alive as compared to the 73% of people who did not do so.

According to SeniorAdvice.com, elderly people aged 65 years and above should be encouraged to quit smoking, do away with diets rich in healthy fats, and engage in aerobic exercise and minimal physical activity. This is important so as to prevent the development of cancer, which is the second leading cause of death in adults 65 years and older.

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