Social stability, social cohesion, warm care keys for healthy aging: experts

09:13, December 02, 2010      

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Social stability, social cohesion and warm family and social care are key factors for a healthy aging period, experts at a Stockholm Healthy Aging Seminar said on Wednesday.

Tom Kirkwood, professor at Newcastle University of United Kingdom said that research has shown that working affects people' s health positively compared with unemployed. But during the working life, it is those who have the autonomy live with better health than those who have been told what to do.

He said social stability and social cohesion are very important for people's health.

"It has been proved that when the former Soviet Union collapsed, the people's health collapsed and when the Ruble collapsed, people's health also collapsed, thus social and financial stability affects people's health," Kirkwood said.

On the other hand, he also did research about Japanese community who live in California, USA.

"Our research shows that those stick to the Japanese community have less occurrence of heart diseases and diabetes while those who were more Americanized and lived in isolation tend to have similar heart problems as other Americans, thus, the Japanese cohesion culture is conducive to its people's health, " Kirkwood said.

He said in Japan there is also greater income equality which is even better than that in Nordic countries contributing to the long life of Japanese people.

Michael Marmot, Professor of University College in the UK said at the seminar that self-realization is also very important for aged people.

"Research shows that those who involve in paid work, even if the pay is low, feel better than those who are involved in a kind of voluntary work, and isolation likely leads to depression for elderly people," Marmot said.

Another research shows that the US lost the battle of health care. Even though the Americans earn more money than the people in the UK, Americans are sicker than people in the UK, the expert said.

"And the reason is that there is more equality in the UK for people to have access to health care while in the US it is only the very rich can have access to health care," Marmot explained.

"A fair society is the condition for individuals to control their life," Marmot said.

"Man who has higher status tends to live better, for example not only has his own food and activities, there must have some money for present for children while social isolation kills the older," said Malcolm Johnson, Professor at University of Bristol.

He said that in Britain's circumstances, he thinks that elderly people who live in the elderly homes have a better care than those who live alone in their own apartment or house.

He said older people need regular reliable human care with contacts and warmth.

"If the elderly people feel they are the expert, can be independent, trustworthy and then their health status will be better," Johnson said.

Marti Parker from Karolinka Institute in Sweden said people with higher education live longer and healthier than those who have lower education. And men who have better education live longer than women who have less education even though generally speaking women live longer than men.

It is predicted that in Sweden half of the children who were born after 2000 will live up to 100 years old or even longer.

Sweden's strategy is to increase education for the whole society."It is better to build more schools and avoid children to drop from school, then we will build less hospitals in the future," said Eva Henriksen, Head of Research and Development Centre for Care of Older People in Stockholm.

But the experts agree that there is great challenge in taking care of the elderly people and more efforts are needed to deal with the aging future.

Source: Xinhua


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