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The older adult population (60+) is extremely diverse, and despite the effects of aging and the higher prevalence of diseases, older adults can resist high levels of biological, psychological and/or social stress. To even consider that increased chronological age by itself justifies a negative outcome is not only an unethical act, but also lacks scientific foundation. In this regard, any intervention or inaction associated with it must be confronted.
Evidence shows that significant loss of functional ability and its correlation with multiple diseases can increase the risk of negative health outcomes including death, particularly in this age group. The complexity of older adults’ needs leads to adequate use of interventions to address those, for which current health care structures are not prepared. This fact has been very clear in the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Quarantine relaxation measures can have a significant impact in the short and medium term on older people and especially on those dependent of care living in the community. Due to health risks, older adults may be one of the last groups in the population for whom the restrictions of the pandemic are loosened, resulting in more time spent in isolation or longer periods of physical distancing. It is necessary to implement strategies to prevent cognitive and functional deterioration, considering that the impacts of confinement and physical isolation on physical and mental health can remain after COVID-19. Older people living with chronic health conditions need health services that help them to achieve healthy and dignified aging. Considering that to achieve healthy aging it is necessary to maintain functional ability, that is, to be and do what individuals have reason to value, health strategies that promote opportunities for older people to maintain / improve their physical and mental capacities (intrinsic capacity) are essential. The COVID-19 pandemic offers an opportunity to strengthen the optimization of capacities in the prevention and management of older adults’ chronic health conditions in primary care, as hospitals are saturated and present a high risk of infection. After the pandemic, we have the challenge to take advantage of lessons learned and continue to strengthen the capacities for prevention, management, rehabilitation and palliation in primary care within a framework of an adequate network of health services articulated with social services and the community.
Throughout the confinement period and beyond, older adults require continuous and timely access to health care. Health professionals have a fundamental role in supporting older people and providing comprehensive and person-centered care for effective health outcomes, that’s why their knowledge, skills and values must be in continuous training.
Optimization of community care for older adults in the context of the pandemic: The importance of self-management for the success of primary care - Melissa deCardi Hladek. Assistant Professor. Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. USA.
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