Health Promotion and Disease Management: A Big Picture ViewDr. Jim Collins
While living longer is in itself a very positive phenomena, population aging in the United States and around the world creates great challenges in terms of social demands and economic burden. Advanced age can bring with it multiple chronic illnesses and disabilities. In order to maintain the health and well-being of older adults and seniors, a focus on health promotion and disease management is needed.
What Is Health Promotion?
Health promotion is meant to be applied to an entire population of adults. It is aimed at engaging and empowering individuals within their communities to make better choices concerning their health and wellness. By doing so, they decrease risk of developing chronic illnesses and can live longer and better-quality lives. Examples of health promotion programs can be found in large retirement communities like The Villages and others scattered across the state of Florida as well as community senior centers throughout the U.S.
Examples of Health Promotion Interventions
In general, health promotion interventions include health education, behavior modification and health communication. Such interventions aim to promote active, healthy, productive and positive aging. Examples of health promotion interventions include:
- Support groups
- Social networks
- Environmental services
- Community strategies
- Economic support
- Health policy
Disease Management 101
Disease prevention can be successfully paired with health promotion to achieve better health outcomes. It differs from health promotion in that it focuses on specific efforts to reduce both the development and severity of chronic conditions and related illnesses. In other words, it strives to avoid diseases and their consequences among older adults and seniors. It also attempts to slow the progression of many illnesses like Alzheimer’s, cancer, and diabetes.
Disease Management Interventions
In order to accomplish prevention or slowing the condition down, a number of interventions can be employed including:
- Promoting physical activity and exercise
- Addressing the issue of frailty or pre-frailty
- Working to improve cognitive function
- Addressing mental health needs
- Improving diet and nutrition
- Enhance sleep quality
- Addressing addiction issues
Determinants of Health
Determinants of health influence modifiable risk behaviors associated with poor health. Health promotion and disease management programs address such determinants including social, cultural, economic and political conditions where people live which affect their health and well-being. The modifiable risks addressed by health promotion and disease management include:
- Lack of physical activity
- Tobacco use
- Excessive use of alcohol or prescription medications
- Poor nutrition
Final Thoughts on Health Promotion and Disease Management
People are living longer in the United States and around the world, but increased longevity comes with the risk of more chronic and debilitating illnesses which can strain resources and lead to poor health outcomes for the aging individual. It is imperative to take a big picture view and examine how health promotion and disease prevention can reduce such risk and lead to better quality outcomes by directly improving determinants of health.