SOURCE: The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, USA. Richard_Besdine@Brown.EDU
Across the world, there are substantial but missed opportunities for promoting health of older persons and extending the healthy life span. Current approaches to health care rely on late detection and treatment of disease, and some of the most expensive systems of care have population health outcomes that are poor to mediocre. A majority of deaths and disability result from progression of preventable chronic diseases for which human behaviors are major contributing factors. An organized and aggressive agenda in health promotion and disease prevention emerges as an important part of the strategy to both promote health and control costs. After reviewing data on determinants of health and contribution of behavioral factors to morbidity and mortality, this paper presents the evidence for efficacy and effectiveness of specific behavioral and clinical interventions to reduce risk for many of the problems accounting for death and disability among elders. We address tobacco use, lack of exercise, inadequate nutrition, hypertension, delirium, obesity, falls, cancer screening, poor oral health, osteoporosis, immunizations and medication safety. Strategies for implementation of effective interventions present an international challenge.