Health matters in later life!
The increasing need for health and wellbeing groups today
Against a back drop of an aging population and now the Covid pandemic, the pressures on our National Health Service have never been greater. As a consequence there is a growing need for us all to take some responsibility for our own health. Raising health awareness is therefore particularly important now. Demands on our local GPs’ surgery are only likely to increase in the months and possibly even years to come as they cope with the backlog not only of the usual complaints of later life such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis (brittle bones) but also now the legacy of the pandemic and long Covid. Individually we may be able to help if we better understand how to stay healthier for longer.
Advancing anno domini and health
While people are living longer today –the healthy life expectancy for men has risen to 79 yrs for men and 83 yrs for women, our healthy life expectancy – the period for which we remain in self-assessed “good health” is only 63 and 64 respectively. Many factors influence our health as we age, some we can change and some we can’t. But of those that we can, awareness could be invaluable. While osteoarthritis and osteoporosis may “go with the territory” there are nevertheless things we can do. For example absorption of calcium, essential for our bones is dependent on our vitamin D3 levels. We make this is our skin but as we age this process becomes less efficient and we may need to take a vitamin supplement. Similarly as we get older our balance may not be as good as it once was and we could be prone to falls but there are things we can do to improve this.
So how might we minimise the risk of health problems as we age
There are many things we can do to lessen the effects of advancing years and raising health awareness is one of them and very much a key objective of Health and Wellbeing Groups. Typically these may take the form of monthly meetings at which a wide range of health topics may be discussed often with a guest speaker frequently from relevant national charity. This is complemented by a FaveBook presence with topical health matters being posted
Details about setting up a Health Matters Group
It would be important at the outset to stress that the purpose of any such group is most definitely not to provide a forum for discussing personal medical problems. This would be entirely inappropriate and would put U3A in a compromising position.
Practicalities of setting up a Health Matters group
- Identify suitable local meeting room, with adequate seating capacity, access to washroom facilities and ideally tea and coffee making facilities.
- Put together a programme of monthly meetings throughout the academic year focusing on health issues likely to be encountered in later life. Topics might include osteoporosis, arthritis, sleep issues and of course diet and supplements in later life.
- Identify potential speakers possibly through national or local charities or from within your broader U3A community. Speakers may be asked to speak for 40-45 mins followed by questions and discussion. Session can often be concluded by open discussion of any current topical medical issues in the national press.
- Need a projector, screen, lap-top and possibly sound amplification system for PowerPoint talks
- Set up a FaceBook page to advertise meeting dates and topic/ speaker as well as posts on topical medical issues.
- A mid-session tea/ coffee (with chocolate biscuits!) break is very valuable to allow socialisation and of course a loo break.
Making known the existence of a newly formed group
A presence at the typical annual U3A “open” days provides an ideal opportunity for promoting a new “Health Matters” Group and can therefore represent a fertile recruiting ground for members. Also by publicizing the existence of such a group in any local U3A newsletter and of course by word of mouth.
If you would like to know anything more about setting up a local Health Matters Group please contact either of the following individuals at the addresses provided below:-
Dr Richard Franklin