Every person – in every country in the world – should have the opportunity to live a long and healthy life.
Healthy Ageing is about creating the environments and opportunities that enable people to be and do what they value throughout their lives. Everybody can experience Healthy Ageing. Being free of disease or infirmity is not a requirement for Healthy Ageing as many older adults have one or more health conditions that, when well controlled, have little influence on their wellbeing.
WHO defines Healthy Ageing “as the process of developing and maintaining the functional ability that enables wellbeing in older age”. Functional ability is about having the capabilities that enable all people to be and do what they have reason to value. This includes a person’s ability to:
- meet their basic needs;
- to learn, grow and make decisions;
- to be mobile;
- to build and maintain relationships; and
- to contribute to society.
Functional ability is made up of the intrinsic capacity of the individual, relevant environmental characteristics and the interaction between them.
Intrinsic capacity comprises all the mental and physical capacities that a person can draw on and includes their ability to walk, think, see, hear and remember. The level of intrinsic capacity is influenced by a number of factors such as the presence of diseases, injuries and age-related changes.
Environments include the home, community and broader society, and all the factors within them such as the built environment, people and their relationships, attitudes and values, health and social policies, the systems that support them and the services that they implement. Being able to live in environments that support and maintain your intrinsic capacity and functional ability is key to Healthy Ageing.