Creating age-friendly environments in Europe

Creating age-friendly environments in Europe. A tool for local policy-makers and planners (2016)

Policies to create more age-friendly environments, in which a growing number of cities and communities, local authorities and regional governments participate, have become a forceful movement in Europe and globally. These policies explore synergies between improving the physical environment of neighbourhoods, transport and housing; increasing respect, social inclusion and community participation; and investing in public services. This publication provides a toolbox to guide local policy-makers and planners in developing, implementing and evaluating age-friendly policies and interventions – policies that support people to age actively and healthily and thus both to do the things that are important to them and to contribute to their communities. Based on lessons learned from existing age-friendly initiatives in Europe, this publication summarizes key factors for establishing and sustaining successful initiatives within four phases of the policy process: engaging, planning, implementing and evaluating. A wealth of examples illustrates how local governments have put the principles of age-friendly action into practice.

Source: Creating age-friendly environments in Europe. A tool for local policy-makers and planners (2016)

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Blood donation text message service in Sweden

Blood connects us all – blood donation text message service in Sweden

Only a quarter of blood donations in high-income countries come from young people (up to age 24). An initiative in Sweden lets blood donors know via text message when their blood has been given to a patient. This is one example of using technology to recruit new donors and to keep them donating. On 14 June, World Blood Donor Day, we thank blood donors for their life-saving gift, and underline the need for regular blood donation.

Source: Blood connects us all – blood donation text message service in Sweden

 

Arvid Öhlin was relaxing at home in Stockholm when he heard the familiar bleep of a text message, or SMS, arriving on his mobile phone. It was an ordinary event, but this was no ordinary text. It was a thank you, notifying him that the blood he recently donated had been given to a patient.

The text message initiative, launched last year by the Stockholm blood donation service Blodcentralen, uses technology to recruit and retain new donors. Donors receive an automated text telling them when their blood has made it into a fellow human being’s veins.

Arvid, aged 40, is now a veteran blood donor. He has given blood 26 times since he was 19 years old. He is so comfortable giving blood that he now takes his little son, Assar, along to the blood bank.

“I was at home the first time I got the thank-you SMS. It felt good and made me happy. It is really nice to get a confirmation that your blood is used,” he explains. When asked what he would say to others about giving blood, he says simply, “I think it is a natural thing to do – if you are able to, you should.”

High-income countries need to recruit more young people to give blood. The Stockholm service hopes their text messaging initiative will help them remedy shortages. According to Communications Manager Karolina Blom Wiberg, “We are convinced the SMS builds loyalty and the donors (including me) love getting them. They hit you right in the gut when you think that someone has in this instant been helped by my blood.”

Blood donation – key facts

  •  Of the 108 million blood donations collected globally, approximately half are collected in high-income countries, home to 18% of the world’s population. This is an increase of almost 25% from 80 million donations collected in 2004.
  • The blood donation rate is 36.8 donations per 1000 population in high-income countries, 11.7 in middle-income countries, and 3.9 in low-income countries.
  • 75 countries report collecting fewer than 10 donations per 1000 population. Of these countries, 40 are in the WHO African Region, 8 in the Region of the Americas, 7 in the Eastern Mediterranean Region, 6 in the European Region, 6 in the South-East Asia Region, and 8 in the Western Pacific Region. All are low- or middle-income countries.
  • The age profile of blood donors shows that proportionally more young people donate blood in low- and middle-income countries than in high-income countries (see Figure 1). Blood donor demographics are important for formulating and monitoring recruitment strategies.

Growing use of mHealth across European Region

According to the latest report on eHealth in the European Region, text messaging is widely used in mHealth (mobile health, including apps, wearable technologies and medical devices). Texts are used for sending appointment reminders and in health promotion, awareness raising and community mobilization campaigns. Yet, only 3 countries surveyed had government-sponsored mHealth programmes and few had conducted in-depth evaluations.

Claudia Stein, Director of the Division of Information, Evidence, Research and Innovation at WHO/Europe, explains that “recruiting and retaining young blood donors who will continue to donate for decades is essential to ensure a self-sufficient blood supply. This is a tremendously powerful use of text messaging as an eHealth tool to mobilize a community for the greater good, and could be adapted easily to other contexts and countries.”

World Blood Donor Day 2016

World Blood Donor Day is celebrated on 14 June. This year’s campaign, “Blood connects us all”, is an opportunity to thank blood donors for their life-saving gift of blood. It also aims to create wider public awareness of the need for regular blood donation, and to inspire those who have not yet donated blood to start. Regular, voluntary, unpaid blood donations are the foundation of a safe, sustainable blood supply.

From innovation to implementation – eHealth in the WHO European Region (2016)

It’s finally here!

from-innovation-ehealth

Please have a read of the World Health Organization European eHealth report and share it with those who would be interested. In particular, you may find the case example on page 71 interesting, where big data for dementia research and treatment is discussed. Or the case example on page 36 about eHealth supporting aged care and carers.

If you like it, please share it 🙂

Happy reading!

Source: From innovation to implementation – eHealth in the WHO European Region (2016)

WHO/Europe | Healthy ageing requires a life-course approach

The first World report on ageing and health calls for urgent, comprehensive public health action to address population ageing. It summarizes current evidence, redresses common misconceptions and assumptions and outlines a framework of action to foster healthy ageing worldwide.

Key messages of the report underpin those of the upcoming WHO European Ministerial Conference on the life-course approach:  Start early to maximize functional ability. It is never too late to maintain peak health by preventing and delaying the onset of noncommunicable diseases. Minimize loss by ensuring supportive environments, effectively managing chronic conditions and developing systems of care.

Source: WHO/Europe | Healthy ageing requires a life-course approach

October 1:  International Day of Older Persons

With advances in medicine helping more people to live longer lives, the number of people over the age of 60 is expected to double by 2050 and will require radical societal change, according to a new report released by the WHO for the International Day of Older Persons (1 October).

Source: WHO | WHO: Number of people over 60 years set to double by 2050; major societal changes required

See also:

WHO Fact sheet on Ageing and Health

WHO World Report on Ageing and Health (full report) (executive summary)

Lack of focus on Aging in the UN Sustainable Development Goals

UN SDGs

This is a follow-up to my other post, Aging and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. In that post, I discussed the launching of the Goals and the UN Population Fund’s summary of the goals – which disappointedly did NOT address aging or older adults. In this post, I look deeper into the Goals, reading all 17 and their 169 associated targets to see where aging is specifically addressed. I think I’m gonna need a coffee to get through them all 🙂  Continue reading

Aging and the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Here at WHO in the UN City in Copenhagen, we will be celebrating the launching of the goals on Monday, September 28th. We will be having a little ceremony with the presentation of the Sustainable Development Goals, a symbolic soccer match in the building lobby, a reception, and raise the new Global Goals flag.

When I first walked into the building and saw the large display of the goals (see my picture below), I remember pausing to read them and not seeing any direct action towards promoting healthy aging or dementia and feeling a bit frustrated. But, I also hadn’t read the Goals yet so didn’t want to be so quick to judge. Continue reading

Internship on Age-Friendly Cities Initiative

Internship with the World Health Organization’s Global Network of Age-friendly Cities

In January, 2013, I started a 3-month internship with the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe. I will be working on how to incorporate eHealth in the Age-friendly cities initiative. I will be posting some updates here on how the internship is going and how gerontechnology will be playing a role in Age-friendly cities.

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Advocating for better treatment of individuals with dementia

This post is from Dementia Alliance International (DAI), who promote education and awareness about dementia. The original text may be slightly modified for this post.

Kate Swaffer’s keynote speech highlights some of the most relevant issues in dementia care and living with dementia:  the need to address the individual, not just their symptoms; human rights issues; balance in dementia research funding; rehabilitation and palliative care in dementia care plans; better diagnostics; delaying institutionalization; inclusion; breaking stigma – I mean, wow, she really gave a great speech! She also touches on two other important topics:  psychosocial stimulation and maintaining work and contribution to society, mentioning her own experience and drive to continue contribution through advocacy.

She is a champion in breaking down stigma and raising awareness for people with dementia, particularly young-onset dementia (before age 65). Head on over to her website, have a read, and sign up to follow her.

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The World Health Organization and the Global Alzheimer’s Movement

I came across a short article on the US Against Alzheimer’s website, where they pose the question:

Can WHO Lead the Global Alzheimer’s Movement?

And I was relieved they asked it! I had also been thinking about this over the past week but had been hesitant to post about it. I guess I didn’t want to seem jaded since my internship with the WHO on the Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities was a bit on the disappointing side. But, I am glad to see I am not the only one who is skeptical about the WHO leading a global Alzheimer’s movement. Wait…

…I am going to call it a dementia movement. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. But, around 50% of people who meet a dementia diagnosis criteria don’t ever get a diagnosis, so we can really only say that Alzheimer’s is the most diagnosed type of dementia. There are many people who do not have Alzheimer’s disease and will benefit from this movement…

Back to the WHO. They are certainly a global leader in addressing health issues and health promotion, and that the work they do is challenging and important. But large scale, challenging, and important work occurs over a long-term of research, planning, and implementation. Shaping policy and all the work that goes behind that takes a long time. This will be a great help – large scale, challenging, and important work that will affect MILLIONS of people. They can affect the movement in their own way, but I hesitate to call them THE leaders.

In addition to the long-term project cycles, and to the criticisms in the article below, I also wonder:  Isn’t there already a global dementia movement?

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Dementia as a Human Rights Concern

On the 16-17 March health ministers have gathered for the first time to discuss at the highest level dementia as a global challenge.

Ms. Kornfeld – Matte, UN Independent Expert on the rights of older persons has addressed the first Ministerial Conference on Global Action against Dementia Organised by the World Health Organisation in Geneva. She stressed that dementia should be viewed both as a health priority and as a human rights issue demanding comprehensive strategies to tackle it and ensure that the rights of people with dementia are protected in all settings. The Independent Expert has taken a particular interest in aspects of care and autonomy as part of her ongoing mandate. Her annual report is expected in September 2015. In April she plans a visit in Mauritius to examine the state of older people’s rights in the country.

More information about the Independent Expert’s intervention on dementia

For further information you can contact Nena Georgantzi, AGE Legal Officer,nena.georgantzi@age-platform.eu 

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Good Practices for Active and Healthy Aging

Launch of an EU-wide repository of good practices supporting active and healthy ageing

March 09, 2015 – 09:00

Europe is ageing rapidly. To address the challenges posed by this unprecented demographic change, European local and regional authorities, universities, civil society organisations and industries, have already developed and implemented a large number of initiatives in the fields of public services, healthcare, ICT, transport, housing, accessibility, and social participation. Today, the AFE-INNOVNET Network is taking the opportunity of the first EU Summit on Innovation for Active and Healthy Ageing to launch a Europe-wide repository set up to gather and share interesting initiatives and help make population ageing an opportunity for Europe’s economic and social growth. Learn from existing initiatives and share yours as well!

With more than 256 members today, the AFE-INNOVNET is an EU-funded Thematic Network aimed at supporting innovation in the field of age-friendly environments, i.e. the adaptation of our social and physical environments to our needs as we age, according to the WHO approach. Launched in February 2014, this network is contributing to the European Innovation Partnership on active and healthy ageing by creating an EU-wide community of stakeholders willing to implement a holistic approach to active and healthy ageing.

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Aging and the Life-course

Report on life-course theory

I was asked to attend a WHO meeting on life-course theory as part of my internship with the World Health Organization’s Regional Office for Europe. While I was there, I was working on the topics of eHealth and the Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities (and trying to bridge the two). I was working in the Division of Non-communicable diseases and health promotion – Ageing, disability and long-term care. The team I was part of worked on the full spectrum of life, from before conception to aging, all with a focus on health promotion and reduction of non-communicable diseases.

This particular meeting was a brainstorming session on how the WHO is using the life-course perspective to address health promotion. I was particularly excited to attend because of my background in psychology and gerontology, where life-course theory has it’s roots.

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Telehealth terms defined

Glossary of telehealth terms

I drafted this glossary as part of my internship with the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe. There, I was working on the topics of eHealth and the Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities (and trying to bridge the two). Much of this material, I first gathered when I was teaching a Master’s Engineering course on Telemedicine Techniques and Aspects for Aalborg University Department of Electronic Systems in 2010.

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