Policies for healthy ageing: an overview – OECD working paper 16 February 2009

Posted on April 16, 2009. Filed under: Aged Care / Geriatrics | Tags: |

Health Working Papers
OECD Health working Papers NO. 42
Policies for healthy ageing: an overview
Howard Oxley

SUMMARY
This paper reviews policies in the area of healthy ageing. With the ageing of OECD countries’ population over coming  decades, maintaining health in old age will become increasingly important. Successful policies in this area can increase the potential labour force and the supply of non-market services to others. They can also delay the need for longer-term care for the elderly. A first section briefly defines what is meant by  healthy ageing and discusses similar concepts – such as “active ageing”. The paper then groups policies into four different types and within each, it describes the range of individual types of programmes that can be brought to bear to enhance improved health of the elderly. A key policy issue in this area concerns whether such programmes have a positive effect on health outcomes and whether they are cost effective.

Looking at specific programmes, the material covered by this review also suggests that important improvements to the health and welfare of older cohorts seem possible from some combination of: delaying retirement, increased community activities, improved lifestyles, health-care systems that are better adapted to the needs of the elderly, particularly where they are combined with more emphasis on cost-effective prevention. However, this study also finds that, while there is considerable evidence that certain policy instruments can help improve the health status of the elderly, it remains unclear as to which are the most (cost) effective. Thus, more research is needed in this area if policy choices are to be (more) evidence-based. But whatever the choice of specific programmes, progress towards healthy ageing would probably be enhanced by placing individual programmes within broader policy frameworks that bring together the full range of measures so as to make them mutually reinforcing.

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