1. Health of the Elderlies and Healthy Ageing: a Challenge for Europe

Walter RICCIARDI a, Maria Lucia SPECCHIA a, Marta MARINO a

a Department of Public Health – Section of Hygiene, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Rome, Italy

Abstract. Population ageing is a major challenge for European Union (EU) society and economy, particularly for Italy, which is the oldest country in Europe. According to the World Health Organization, two-thirds of European citizens who have reached the retirement age suffer from at least two chronic conditions, with a strong pressure on healthcare systems. Moreover, EU countries already spend, on average, more than a quarter of their gross domestic product on social protection, above all pensions, health and long term care. The current financial crisis is putting a strain on this system. In this context, it becomes increasingly necessary to promote a healthy and independent ageing, by improving outcomes for patients and society while ensuring health systems sustainability. To this purpose a proactive approach to chronic diseases prevention (primary, secondary and tertiary) as well as an integrated healthcare approach and also patients’ empowerment are required so as to make daily life more age-friendly. It is also necessary to share health and social best practices, adopt policies really effective against elderly social exclusion and strengthen older people participation in society. A joint effort of all key stakeholders is needed to create a society in which older people can play an active role.

Keywords. Active Ageing, Healthy Living, Health 2020, Chronic Diseases, Prevention, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

DOI: 10.3233/978-1-61499-425-1-1