The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Children and older persons are more susceptible to various forms of environmental pollution than individuals in the intermediate ages and are more likely to be affected by even the lowest pollution levels. Medical conditions due to environmental pollution reduce productivity and affect quality of life of persons as they age. Malnutrition and poor nutrition also place older persons at disproportionate risk and can adversely affect their health and vitality. The leading causes of disease, disability and mortality in older persons can be alleviated through health promotion and disease prevention measures that focus, inter alia, on nutrition, physical activity and cessation of smoking.

Objective 1: Reduction of the cumulative effects of factors that increase the risk of disease and consequently, potential dependence in older age.

Actions: (a) Give priority to poverty eradication policies to, inter alia, improve the health status of older persons, in particular the poor and marginalized; (b) Ensure, as appropriate, conditions that enable families and communities to provide care and protection to persons as they age; (c) Set targets, in particular gender-specific targets, to improve the health status of older persons and reduce disability and mortality;

(d) Identify and address the main environmental and socio-economic factors that contribute to the onset of disease and disability in later life; (e) Focus on the major known risks arising from unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and other unhealthy behaviour, such as smoking and alcohol abuse, in health promotion, health education, prevention policies and information campaigns; (f) Take comprehensive action to prevent the abuse of alcohol, to reduce the use of tobacco products and involuntary exposure to tobacco smoke in promoting the cessation of tobacco use at all ages;

(g) Set in place and implement legal and administrative measures and organize public information and health promotion, including campaigns to reduce the exposure to environmental pollutants from childhood and throughout life; (h) Promote the safe use of all medications and minimize the misuse of prescription drugs through regulatory and education measures with the participation of the industry and professional sectors involved.

Objective 2: Development of policies to prevent ill-health among older persons.

Actions: (a) Design early interventions to prevent or delay the onset of disease and disability; (b) Promote adult immunization programmes as a preventive measure; (c) Ensure that gender-specific primary prevention and screening programmes are available and affordable to older persons; (d) Provide training and incentives for health and social service and care professionals to counsel and guide persons reaching old age on healthy lifestyles and self-care;

(e) Pay attention to the dangers arising from social isolation and mental illness and reduce the risk they pose to the health of older persons by supporting community empowerment and mutual aid groups, including peer outreach and neighbourhood visiting programmes and by facilitating the active participation of older persons in voluntary activities;

(f) Promote civic and cultural participation of older persons as strategies to combat social isolation and support empowerment; (g) Rigorously implement and reinforce, where applicable, national and international safety standards that aim at preventing injuries at all ages; ...(i) Develop statistical indicators at all levels on common diseases in older persons to guide policies aimed at preventing further illness in this age group;

(j) Encourage older persons to maintain or adopt an active and healthy lifestyle, including physical activity and sport.

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