3. Demographic Changes and the Challenge for a Healthy Ageing

Paolo Maria ROSSINI, Camillo MARRA

Department of Geriatric, Neuroscience and Orthopedics

Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Rome, Italy

Abstract: Demographic changes bring about a wide range of new research fields including policy topics, health, social welfare, work & productivity, urban & rural development, communication tools, and mobility. This new situation  requires a new multi-disciplinary approach bringing together different research programs in order to provide solutions for the upcoming challenges. National Health services are now facing a huge shift in the population structure with a predominance  of  older  generations  in the total number of citizens. Good health is the most important factor to live independently in old age. A better understanding of ageing processes and the related “plasticity” of individual performance for environmental adaptation, the prevention for age-related illnesses and  healthcare strategies are the basis for keeping very old people healthy and active throughout the course of their lives. We will face mainly the biological, cognitive and psychological dimensions of ageing. Afterwards, we will focus on the relationships linking various biological and lifestyle factors  -such as nutrition- that are crucial to obtain a comprehensive picture of ageing and to promote preventing strategies against degenerative neurological diseases. Finally we will investigate which interventions - nutritional and physical - could help in keeping people healthy, in particular which factors could promote people’s physical, social and psychological functional abilities and the systemic multilevel consequences induced by a healthy ageing.

Keywords. Demographic Change, Healthy Ageing, Innovation, Research, Healthcare Strategies, Elderly, Health