Health Defined – A Universal Definition of Health
The terms “well-being” and “quality of life” are often used interchangeably. Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is “”a condition of total bodily, emotional and social well-being and not just the absence of sickness and disease.” Different definitions have been applied to the concept of well-being over the years. Some psychologists define it as the state of being healthy, others as the quality of life that one experiences and truly enjoys.
A common definition, endorsed by many public health professionals, is that well-being is the state that your physical and mental conditions are under control. People who are happy with their health are more likely to be healthy, able to participate actively in community life, and to be physically active and productive. It is the ability to cope with stress, pain, and discomfort, to engage in meaningful activities, and to maintain a balance between the different aspects of their lives. This definition of health promotion is most closely associated with the concept of medical care.
One type of health care delivery that has been widely used for decades is the community health system. Community health systems focus on prevention, early detection and treatment of diseases through a system of primary care and specialized care delivery. This definition excludes the hospital system, which is designed to provide for the care of acute patients in need of quick diagnosis and extensive treatment. The term “system” includes all those elements of the health care system that work together in a coordinated way. For example, primary care providers work with doctors, surgeons, specialists, nurses, and other health care providers to provide a comprehensive treatment package tailored to each patient’s needs.
Older adults are an increasing population that needs comprehensive services. In order to protect older adults and ensure their health and the prevention of diseases that can lead to death, public health experts have developed programs that address health issues specifically affecting older adults. Preventive health strategies for older adults focus on reducing the risks of diseases such as heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, and diabetes. They also focus on promoting healthy nutrition and weight loss and on maintaining healthy lifestyles through a combination of diet and physical activity.
A newer strategy that is increasingly being used across the country is the “Prevention through Intervention”. This strategy centers on encouraging regular preventive care, conducting home visits for in-person screenings of high-risk conditions, and arranging for urgent care when necessary. Prevention through intervention is one of the newest strategies to target one group or another at high rates of success. It relies on a well-designed program that addresses the unique needs of each individual. A large part of this program relies on encouraging patients to take responsibility for their own health care. This concept has been proven effective in many different settings.
When illness strikes an older adult it can have a profound effect on the quality of life, especially in terms of quality of life related to health. Long-term care is a rapidly increasing concern. An accurate definition of long-term care includes all services provided to an individual that will require assistance for at least one year. These services include but are not limited to, nursing home care, assistance with physical activities and management of basic household needs, care in a hospice or nursing home, and related services.