One of the greatest challenges currently facing Europe is how best to adapt EU policies and strategies to meet the demands associated with demographic change. As the EU faces this challenge, its headline strategies such as the EU 2020 Strategy are heavily influenced by these prospects.
By Cristina Chiotan
The Commission is taking proactive measures to tackle the future challenges posed by an ageing population by prioritising initiatives that will contribute to building a healthy and active population for the future. One of those initiatives is the European Innovation Partnership on Healthy and Active Ageing, which has as its target to increase the average healthy lifespan by two years by 2020. Several actions are foreseen in three areas: prevention and health promotion, care and cure, and active and independent living of the elderly people. 2012 was also the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations.
In its activities related to healthy ageing, EuroHealthNet stresses the importance of promoting health throughout the life course starting with investment in early childhood and continuing right through into old age. For us, healthy ageing means optimising opportunities for physical, social and mental health to enable older people to take an active part in society without discrimination and to enjoy an independent and good quality of life. In order to achieve this, we advocate for healthy ageing throughout the following actions at local, regional, national and EU level:
Highlighting healthy ageing policies, projects and initiatives on our website www.healthyageing.eu
In 2012, EuroHealthNet launched its new Healthy Ageing portal (www.healthyageing.eu) to showcase the important role of health promotion in the ageing process. The website highlights some of the key determinants necessary for healthy ageing, lists the key resources, and shows innovative actions/good practices from across Europe that aim to improve the health and well-being of older people. The examples we highlight range from promoting physical activity among older people in Hungary to development of walking clubs to promoting the use of online social networks for older people in the Netherlands. We encourage you to submit us your initiatives/projects/activities related to healthy ageing to be posted on our website.
Collecting good practices on healthy ageing in the report on “Healthy and Active Ageing”
EuroHealthNet, in conjunction with the Federal Institute of Health Education (BZgA) published a report on Healthy and Active Ageing.
The report provides a selection of policies, programmes and interventions for promoting and sustaining the well-being of “younger” older people with a specific reference to socially deprived and migrant groups.
Advocating for health equity considerations in EU ageing policies
EuroHealthNet contributes to EU policy processes by advocating for the inclusion of health promotion and considering the impact on health equity in the policy making process. EuroHealthNet submitted a commitment under the European Innovation Partnership on Healthy and Active Ageing and is now part of one of the action groups to draft an action plan on creating age-friendly environments in Europe.
Leading the communications strand of the FP7 project “IROHLA – Intervention Research on Health Literacy among Ageing Population” (2012 -2015) www.irohla.eu
EuroHealthNet leads the work package on communication and dissemination in the FP7 IROHLA project “Intervention Research on Healthy Literacy among Ageing Population”. This project focuses on improving health literacy for the ageing population in Europe by enhancing competencies and empowerment of older adults and providing innovative tools for services. The IROHLA project investigates health literacy interventions among the ageing population and draws lessons from other sectors, e.g. social and private sectors.
Policy Action Group on Healthy Ageing
EuroHealthNet has a Policy Action Group dedicated to Healthy Ageing. The group consists of over 20 public health institutes (EuroHealthNet members and collaborating partners) from 16 different European countries. The objective of the group is to link public health experts within the network to work together around ageing and health.