Public Health Systems Hold Promise for Aging Populations, Journal Finds
In "Aging and Public Health," a new special issue of the journal Innovation in Aging from The Gerontological Society of America, researchers look at public health interventions that work to foster healthy aging.
The issue's eight papers focus on how best to lengthen the period of good health, a sustained sense of well-being, and extended periods of social engagement and productivity as our society ages, while emphasizing elements in the realm of public health.
"Public health faces the challenge of designing, assessing, translating, and implementing programs that push interventions out to aging subpopulations that span a broad continuum of health and vulnerability," wrote Deputy Editor-in-Chief Steven M. Albert, PhD, FGSA, and Guest Associate Editor Vicki A. Freedman, PhD, in an opening editorial.
Three papers focus on making communities and service systems more age-friendly; three additional papers emphasize population surveillance of vulnerable subgroups of the aging population; and a pair of papers focus on programmatic innovations to address specific needs common among older adults.
Rather than focusing solely on how aging unfolds for individuals, articles in this issue emphasize the critical role of systems — either through population health surveillance or through implementation of programs that utilize infrastructures on the ground, such as health departments, aging services providers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Administration for Community Living/Administration on Aging, state units on aging, county human services, health systems, and national advocacy organizations.
"Papers in the special issue met the charge of applying a public health perspective to aging subpopulations that span the continuum of health and vulnerability," Albert and Freedman stated. "Not all components of public health could be addressed, and undoubtedly many other kinds of aging could profitably be pulled into the conversation. Still, this collection brings to bear the tools of public health, and this approach forces us to think about aging more broadly than we ordinarily do."