AGE Platform Europe and ATHLOS are hosting a meeting on demographic scenarios and healthy ageing policies at the European Parliament. The event considered patterns of healthy ageing trajectories, their determinants and how they can be used in public health interventions, providing an overview of the social determinants influencing health inequalities and of the policies that could more positively sustain healthy ageing. It also gathered researchers and policy makers around the most recent research findings in the field of healthy ageing and ensure they have all the right cards in hand to make the necessary change towards healthy ageing for all.
Sugar intake, smoking, alcohol consumption and inactivity are the most known causes affecting our health. By reducing these risk factors, most of our recent and less recent diseases (cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, mental diseases, among the most known ones) can be prevented. However, the most efficient tools to prevent and combat diseases are living in a healthy environment and being provided good education. Indeed, research shows that our environment and our education play a major role in the way we age and are essential components for healthy ageing as well.
Far from being a purely demographic phenomenon, ageing is a dynamic process amenable to influence by policy changes. ATHLOS has been designed to support at international level an “healthy ageing strategy”, aimed, in a global sense, at reducing the prevalence of age-related disability. Decisions made now in different countries and by different settings, in particular the policy settings, will largely determine the future of ageing societies and how they can age healthily.
The ATHLOS project proposes a new definition of old-age that does not rely on traditional chronological thresholds, but is based on the health of populations. This provides countries, and thus policy-makers, with the opportunity to define country-specific health thresholds and to address the most appropriate interventions that are deemed to change the thresholds of old-age through interventions aimed to enhance healthy ageing.
ATHLOS approach to healthy ageing and to the definition of old-age therefore provides the opportunity for policy-makers to concretely enact health policies targeting healthy ageing through country-specific interventions. These interventions will be directed on those domains of health that are expected to produce the widest effects. This, in turn, will impact on country-specific health thresholds and, given ATHLOS new definition of old-age, on population healthy ageing.