Toward healthy aging in Latin America and the Caribbean: leaving no one behind?

Keating et al.

[Extract] The framework of healthy aging has created a structure for research across the United Nations Decade of Healthy Aging (2021-2030) and for action to address the mission of the Sustainable Development Goals “to leave no one behind” (1). Across the decade, researchers, governments and civil society are urged to develop strategies to identify and address inequities and to foster healthy aging. This agenda requires coordinated effort from researchers in Gerontology and Geriatrics to address the broad set of social and health issues in aging including functional status, social participation, and older adults’ needs in the context of social and health care systems (2).
Healthy aging is dynamic. It reflects processes across the latter part of the life course, influenced by individuals’ mental and physical capacities, their environments and the relationships between them. If there is a ‘good fit’ the outcome is wellbeing (3) and opportunities for older adults across countries and regions to be and to do the things they have reason to value (4). The framework requires us to monitor how health status evolves over time and how health systems can influence health trajectories. There is need to fill knowledge gaps in the supportiveness of family environments; and the extent to which communities have sufficient resources to be age-friendly. The influence of macro issues such as climate change and ageism must be brought into the healthy aging discourse. Indicators of wellbeing that reflect person-environment interfaces need to be developed and used to inform policy and practice interventions to reduce inequities.
The manuscripts in this special issue contribute to the global research agenda for the upcoming decade and make important contributions to the state of knowledge of healthy aging in Latin America and Caribbean. Several papers address functional status and model future functional dependence. They address the components of healthy aging: intrinsic capacities related to physical and mental health; and interactions with key environments including households, communities and broader policies. Together they provide insights into the extent to which older persons in the region can realize their goals. [...]

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