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Center for Policy Research

Policy Brief

Health Promotion for Older Adults: What Is the Potential?

Linda P. Fried

C.P.R. Policy Brief No. 17

December 1999

Abstract

As a greater number of people reach old age, medicine is challenged to develop new approaches to this population. Health promotion, not just treatment of disease but improving the quality of life for older persons, must play a role. What happens to individuals in terms of health status as they get older, and what are the implications for health care needs? Where should we focus to get the biggest benefits in terms of health promotion?

Overall, we have learned a tremendous amount over the last 25 years about the components of health as people get older, and what modifies their health. We know, for example, that the health status of older adults is a composite of the chronic diseases that they may have, of how many chronic diseases are present, and of underlying physiological changes of aging, such as a decline in muscle strength, that appear to be an intrinsic part of the aging process. Disability can result from chronic disease. In addition, people are more susceptible to acute illnesses and injuries as they get older.

Sponsored by the The Herbert Lourie Memorial Lecture series, which is jointly sponsored by Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and the Central New York Community Foundation, Inc., and is administered by the Center for Policy Research and The Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion.

The Center for Policy Research Policy Brief series is a collection of essays on current public policy issues in aging; urban and regional studies; education finance and accountability; public finance; social welfare, poverty, and income security; and related research done by or on behalf of the Center for Policy Research at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University.


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