Maintaining good health in old age is rapidly becoming an important public policy issue in all corners of the world.   Successful policies can have a tremendous impact on the general population welfare and can positively affect the economy, the workforce and demands on healthcare.

The OECD recently published a paper reviewing ‘healthy ageing’ policies in its member countries.   Based on their definition of healthy ageing, the report identifies four policy areas that can potentially enhance improved health of the elderly.

  • Improve integration of the elderly into society and the economy, including extending working life and revisiting retirement policies
  • Promote better lifestyles, including increase in physical activity, more attention to nutrition and lifestyle illnesses, such as diabetes
  • Adapt health systems to the needs of the elderly, including more attention to mental illness and increase in preventative care
  • Attack underlying social and environmental factors that affecting healthy ageing

The report also looks at the cost effectiveness of the program areas and found that there is considerable evidence that certain policy instruments do improve the health status of the elderly, it remains unclear as to which are the most cost effective.   More evidence-based research is called for.