Health Promotion & Disease Prevention

Diseases of aging can be prevented through lifestyle modifications such as a healthy diet, smoking cessation, appropriate weight maintenance, increased physical activity and stress management. There are certain ways to decrease the risk of certain diseases such as heart disease, cancer and stroke, the leading causes of death in the elderly.

Health Promotion activities are those activities in which an individual can proactively engage to improve his or her health. The prevention activities may be classified as primary prevention, secondary prevention and tertiary prevention.

Primary prevention activities are those designed to completely prevent a disease from occurring such as immunization against pneumonia or influenza.

Secondary preventive efforts are directed toward early detection and management of a disease. For example, colonoscopy to detect small cancerous polyps. Tertiary prevention efforts are used to manage clinical diseases to prevent them from progressing or to avoid complications of the disease.

For example, beta-blockers are used to help remodel the heart in congestive heart failure.

Health Screening:

 Health Screening is a form of secondary prevention. For example screening test for disease like diabetes, which occurs frequently, is beneficial for the early detection of the disease. The screening tests should be relatively non-invasive and acceptable to the patients, cost-effective and available, and highly sensitive and specific. (For screening test it is suggested that you should take advice from the experts.).

Health Promotion Efforts:

A major focus of Health Promotion efforts for the elderly is to minimise the loss of independence associated with illness and functional decline. Multiple chronic illnesses are common in the elderly and cure is often an unrealistic and inappropriate goal. These chronic illnesses can lead to disability and dependency. Maintaining independence in activities of daily living ( ADLs) is an important goal for health-promoting activities.

The family caregivers need to focus on the following areas to promote health and prevent disability in the elderly members of the family.

      1. Physical activity,
      2. Nutrition,
      3. Quit smoking( tobacco use),
      4. Safety (prevention from Falls, and home safety and monitoring balance),
      5. Immunization (Annual flu vaccine, Pneumococcal vaccine)
      6. Depression
      7. Dementia


What can a caregiver do to encourage the elderly family member who is suffering from chronic diseases to adopt health-promoting behaviours and manage their chronic illness?

Five key elements of self-management programmes are:

    1. Problem-solving
    2. Decision making
    3. Resource utilization
    4. Forming a healthcare professional/ client partnership
    5. Taking action.

In the problem-solving phase, the elderly person may identify several barriers to initiating an exercise programme and then list strategies for overcoming each barrier, to arrive at a workable strategy. Decision-making helps the elderly with the information needed to make the decisions they need to be on daily basis.

Note: Indian Gerontological Association, provides a Chronic Disease Self- management programme (CDS MP). The course goal is to teach elderly patients to improve symptoms management, maintain functional ability, and adhere to their medication discipline.

The Self –management course is most effective in smoking cessation. Immunization, physical activity, weight control, arthritis, and diabetes.

(To be continued—-)

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Ageing and accompanying health factors often make later part of life a very difficult period of life. Self-care and health promotion are important in maintaining independence in old age. Self-care is the ability to meet one’s needs. It is suggested that maintaining of low risk of disease and disease-related disability, high mental and physical functions and active engagement of life are most essential in the later period of life.

Indeed, the higher functional ability is not necessary for a higher quality of life. The elderly who have chronic disabilities find ways to maximize the quality of life through other means including spirituality and social engagements. Altruism and volunteering in various capacities enhance life satisfaction.

Maintain your Heath and Independence

Significant shifts are evident in both population ageing and the prevalence of non-communicable lifestyle diseases. The impact of such changes on society is becoming dramatic. The growing obesity problems, declining levels of physical activity and increased prevalence of coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes are just of few health issues that are requiring immediate attention from the Government and other agencies who are advocating the issues of the elderly. Older adults want to remain healthy and independent at home and society wants to minimize the health care and economic costs associated with an increasingly ageing population.

The most important health problem is the need for a reduction in the morbidity of ageing populations. Prevention is always better than cure. Curative approaches to problems of frail elderly are not likely to have robust effects. Prevention of morbidity associated with ageing represents the central issue for future health, and knowledge of which approaches are best and how they may best be implemented is a prerequisite for successful health policies.

Keeping in view this fact, health promotion and disease prevention activities should be given priority for older adults, their families and the health care system. Several studies have indicated that healthy eating, physical activity, mental stimulation, maintaining a safe environment, social support and regular health care are important in maintaining health and independence.


A beautiful message explaining how Happiness is a State of Mind.

HAPPINESSAll of us should try to develop such an attitude. A man of 92 years, short, very well-presented, who takes great care in his appearance, is moving into an old people’s home today. After waiting several hours in the retirement home lobby, he gently smiles as he is told that his room is ready. His wife of 80 has recently died, and he is obliged to leave his home. As he slowly walks to the elevator, using his cane, I describe his small room to him, including the sheet hung at the window which serves as a curtain.

“I like it very much”, he says, with the enthusiasm of an 8-year-old boy who has just been given a new puppy.

“You haven’t even seen the room yet, hang on a moment, we are almost there.”

“That has nothing to do with it”, he replies.

“It is already decided in my mind that I like my room. It is a decision I make every morning when I wake up.”

“Happiness is something I choose in advance. Whether or not I like the room does not depend on the furniture, or the décor rather it depends on how I decide to see it.”


I have the pleasure of forwarding a very touching emotional article by Mrs. Chithra Vishwanathan a well-known Cooking expert, as to how you can transform your life by transforming your thinking:


“When my daughter, elder one of my two children, got married and left the house, I felt as if I could not let her leave me. Having a daughter and a son, I know what both mean, but differently.


Once my daughter reached her teens I had started feeling as if my daughter was a ‘physical extension” of me. So when she was leaving home to set up her own nest, it was as though, I was losing a limb.


The next time she came for a short stay with us, I was astonished at how her priorities had changed. (of course, we must have given the same shocks to our parents). When she said Amma, she meant her mother-in-law, not me!


I imagined that she was always in a hurry to go back to her house and not stay with me for a few more days which I wanted so badly. That was the first time; it dawned on me that I have to start practicing detachment in attachment.


Two years after my daughter’s marriage, my son left for higher studies in the US. Having experienced a child’s separation once, this time I was better equipped emotionally.


I plunged headlong into various classes held in the city starting from Vedanta to healing to Ikebana – I just wanted to be away from home. My husband, who was a workaholic, also could not understand my predicament.


My son used to write how he was missing my home-cooked food, how he was waiting to come back to live in Chennai with us etc. After a few years, he did come back and we got him married.


He started living separately with his wife & we were also happy that they wanted to be independent. But now, it was all changed!


When in the US, he missed my cooking. Now if I called him to come over with his wife for a meal, it was always some excuse like “oh, amma, we have other plans for the day, please don’t mistake us if we don’t drop in today “!


I could see that his priorities had also changed completely.


We talk in theory so many things and advise others etc. but when it comes to our children, acceptance comes very late and the next step is just leaving them undisturbed in every way, mainly without advice from our end.


It was at that time, I made the following lines as my “new profile”: