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Positive Ageing

by Suleman

Positive ageing is the process of maintaining a positive attitude, keeping healthy an fit, feeling good about yourself and ageing fully in life as you age. Ageing is linked with many rewarding experiences but also a period when important changes may occur such as contracting social networks, diminution of physical function and vitality, fixed employment opportunities and loss. The center for ageing focuses on determining to make the most ageing experience in a person and view older age as a positive and full-filling stage of life. Population ageing may have a demographic transition that has profound social, economic and political implications. Positive ageing pertains enhancing life quality by giving opportunities for preserving and improving mental and physical health, participation, independence, and security. Keeping a positive ageing is important as statistics indicate that a positive attitude improves mental and physical health. It also enables people to preserve a sense of quality and control of life as they face another section of the life cycle. This paper will focus on the barriers to achieving positive ageing and discuss several models towards this.

There has been a growth of population worldwide of people aged 55 years and over. These statistics were described by the United Nations as unparalleled, unprecedented, profound and persistent in its demonstration of immense challenges to the structure and models of the society. This dramatic change in demographics is lamented as a problem that needs to be solved. The fact that people from various areas are living longer is a very positive thing. Although the ageing population is associated with challenges, it also gives a range of benefits and opportunities to the older people and the community. The challenge for the broader community and government is to ensure that people live longer, happy, continue to lead healthy and fulfilling’s lives. Positive ageing is more than philosophy as it’s a practical way of improving and enhancing the chances of having a better life as one gets old. Various characteristics later in life makes positive ageing a process risky if the negativity is left unsolved. This includes; ageism where older people and ageing process is portrayed as a negative term. They are seen as a burden to the society, but people fail to realize that these are absorbed subconsciously and can give negative internal beliefs about ageing. Second, is the loss and fear where ones get old and experience loss f family and friend through death. Lastly is the transitions such as illness, loss of employment, bereavement becomes more likely as one gets old which tend to trigger physical and emotional processes leading to profound changes in how ones feel about themselves.

Positive ageing advocates approach to recommend a realistic understanding of ageing which fully discern its positive aspects in addition to the more challenges ones. It also advocates the understanding of the five events in human life’s which we have no control over them, but we have some control over how we respond to this events.  The realization of how we feel and think about ageing may have a substantial impact on personal well-being and health in old age. The approach uses humanistic psychology and techniques which can be studied and applied as a preventive measure during the process of ageing to yields better results.

In the UK, there are various statistics of the positive ageing group and an estimates given between the year 2002 and 2016 are; the population aged 90 has improved more rapidly than the younger group in the recent years although it remains a small part of the total UK population. The birth patterns resulted in rapid growth and ageing of the aged 90 and overpopulation in the

recent years. This has greatly played outgrowth and ageing have returned to longer-term average. There has also been the rise of men’s proportion aged 90 in the population. Currently, there are 962 million people above the age of 60.  There is estimation that by 2050 there will be more than 2 billion people aged above 60 which is twice the number measured in the year 2000. In the UK there is a major achievement of healthcare and modern science as people are living longer than ever before. However, the country it’s not making the most opportunities afforded by the ageing population where too many people are forced out of work at old age by unwelcoming attitudes and poor health. The ageing population is also a challenge to the UK’s model of service provision.  There has been a question whether the number of people in later life will predominantly empower, healthy, skilled and able to contribute fully to the society in the UK. Positive ageing in London is a regional forum on bringing together the older people organization on the aging people, charities, statutory bodies and service providers. It gives valuable inputs in to the Mayor’s forum on Ageing and is committed to making a difference to the lives of the older people by; improving key issues affecting older people on London, developing policy and voice for the older people, challenging for change, disseminating practice and policy, advocating, engaging and promoting the older people in London

There are various barriers to achieving positive ageing. These factors prevent people to live independently in the future by having a quality of life through remaining active and contributing to the society. Healthy lifestyles in linked as a factor attributing lack of achieving positive ageing. According to the National Health Committee statistics, the decline in physical associated with old age is attributed to the inactivity. This is linked to the factors such as high blood pressure, obesity, and feeling of depression and anxiety. Physical activity maintains and builds healthy bones, joints and muscles thereby minimizing the risk of falling. It also improves the ageing people ability to perform the daily task thereby making them achieving a positive ageing. Health lifestyles influencing a person to attain positive ageing can be categorized into; Body Mass Index (BMI), sleep, exercise, sexual behavior, substance abuse, medication and application of modern technologies.

Emotional, Social and mental health are critical factors in determining positive ageing. There is a universal consensus that later in life suffering and sickness can be partially relieved by a frame of mind that embraces and affirms life. When people are associated with health-conscious, they believe they can manage their health. Many older people with various disabilities had a positive health perception due to the feeling of the sense of control and independence over their own lives. Regular engagement in various meaningful activities helps achieve the overall positive ageing. Studies show that older people at higher risk of mental illness are recently widowed, discharged from the hospital, the poor, living alone and socially disadvantaged. However, men are at higher risk than women.

Income is a predictor of achieving positive ageing and health status. Low income is linked to limits of purchasing health insurance, healthcare, appropriate housing and other services and goods that assist in attaining positive ageing and overall maintenance of health. Increasing income for the poorest members in a community influences attaining positive ageing thereby reducing health inequalities. Low income is associated with several factors that may limit a person achieve positive ageing. This includes a psychological mechanism such as the stress of not having enough money for one’s basic needs may affect health. Materialist argument that money buys health sustaining and promoting goods which also helps in social life engagement thereby making people be in good health. Behavioral factors that people living in disadvantaged setting may be more likely to face unhealthy behaviors.

Social factors such as education also hinder positive ageing. People receiving better education are likely to have positive ageing as a result of getting a good job.  Social capital is vital in influencing health which is regarded as the aggregate of the potential or actual resources related to the possession of durable network of less or more institutionalized relationships of recognition or mutual acquaintance. Bio-psychosocial approaches stress how important relational networking is in the objective for positive ageing. For example, religion has been found to improve a sense of belonging to related activities such as volunteering where good health is promoted thereby leading to positive ageing. Its evident that wide range of factors exists that are considered to be the barriers in achieving positive ageing, health and well-being.

The medical model implies the approach to reducing health problems. It also implies set of assumptions that look at behavioral abnormalities in the same model as physical abnormalities or disease. There is increasing interest in how to age successfully and attaining consensus over the measurement and definition of the medical model. Health promotion in older people can change behavior especially diet and exercise. Targeting various health behaviors improves the general self-efficacy and health perception in the older people. In the medical model, a rationale for promoting successful positive ageing is explored by clinicians as a way of assessing risks associated with health and engaging in health promotions with older people. However, models of positive ageing are contentious, since no agreement exists across disciplines about definitions and there is a discussion about appropriate cut-off points measures used. In the medical model, the patient has minimal to choice in treatment or care. The positive ageing is also regarded as optimization of life expectancy while reducing mental and physical deterioration and disability.

Psychological model is a theory used in psychology to predict and explain the outcomes in a specific psychological process. The psychological approach suggests that positive ageing is not only maintaining health but about maximizing ones psychological resources such as resilience and self-efficacy. It also includes maximizing better medical management of morbidity, changing the lifestyle of older people and preventive care that are of benefit to health and longevity. This model also investigates how the older people may optimize their wee-being by building age-related choices. In this case, scientists propose that positive ageing can be attained if individuals choose to compensate for their reduction in abilities by conforming to the new situation of by re-assessing previously important goals. Although this model does not look at aspects of ability instead of disease, it gives a clear insight into successful adapting to age-related changes. Researchers contend that studies and research should be concentrating on the positive gains and evolving strengths in old age. Positive ageing is concerned with growth and improves in all aspect at an older age. The model views many transitions such as pain, loss, age-related decline, non-existent or grief are due to the increasing age. However, it suggests that people at old age can learn how to alter their focus by studying new strategies of how to become more accepting. In this case, a person may be assisted to shift their expectations according to their changed abilities. Checking and controlling symptoms of a disease or upholding physical fitness are supported by positive ageing proponents. The mode of psychology towards positive ageing aims to set up techniques that enable individuals to change life routines to hold psychological well-being through recruiting latent potentials and responding timely to age-related changes.

The concept of positive ageing is associated with the areas of social participation, health employment and education, housing, financial security, the built environment and the subjective well-being. Its evident that those who are ageing in good health and engaging in physical and productive activity are likely to have positive ageing in future. There is the need for strategies to provide opportunities for all to improve the situation of the older people in society. This can be done by drawing attention to the negative effects of exclusion and age discrimination from opportunities to participate. New opportunities to serve others are generated by older people, not only their families but their societies and community. After all, positive ageing people who are relatively healthy and happy can become assets to their society rather than the burdens

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