Uppsala Health Summit on healthy ageing

Our Director Nicola Bedlington attended the Uppsala Health Summit on 3-4 June 2014 in Sweden. As member of the Advisory Board, she provided a patients’ perspective on this year’s theme “Healthcare for Healthy Ageing" where she highlighted the EPF position on the rights and needs of older patients.

By 2050, it is estimated people aged 65 + will represent 30% of the European population. As the general population age, people can acquire one or more chronic conditions.  Patients who were diagnosed at a younger age also live longer due to medical progress.  Addressing the needs of older patients is therefore an important aspect to consider in reforming healthcare.

While the European Union has given increased attention to this issue over the last few years, notably through the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing . EPF believes more actions from decision-makers are necessary to advance the rights of older patients. We published a position paper, which highlights important flaws that have been identified by patient organisations in the care for older people and provides recommendations for the EU institutions, Member States, and health stakeholders.

Older patients often report they feel they have to ‘fight the system’ to get the care they need. Moreover they wish to remain independent and autonomous for as long as possible. A holistic care approach is needed, centred on the person, not the disease to tackle this and informal carers play a key role that must be better recognised.

Older people are vulnerable to discrimination and stigma, through stereotype and wrongful perceptions including from healthcare staff and researchers, or provisions such as age rationing of services. It is paramount to move away from negative perceptions through training and upholding their rights to dignity and respect, taking into account diversity within this group. Another key issue is multi-morbidity and the challenges of polypharmacy and adherence.

Older patients also need information on how to stay active and how to manage their disease. They can only make informed choices when they have accurate information, presented in a format that is understandable and easily accessible.

Innovations also include low tech solutions, and changes in the way care is delivered. Patient involvement in reorganising healthcare system to face challenges would lead to more efficiency, better quality, while ensuring equitable access.

To read the full version of our position paper, please click here (PDF).

The European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing shared a video, realised by the European Commission, on the importance of active and healthy ageing and targets a larger public: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0ip9ZLRdZU

Contact: Laurène Souchet, EPF Policy Officer, laurene.souchet@eu-patient.eu