Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Philippines - Doctors urge Filipino elders to stay healthy, active

MOST Filipinos are young, but the segment of older people is slowly growing and they need to be taken cared of, health experts say.

“We still have a young population today. But comparing from previous years, we have a growing aging population,” Nestlé Health Science (NHS) Medical and Scientific Affairs Lead Dr. Jimmy Bautista told the BusinessMirror.

Recent studies showed the geriatric sector worldwide is growing, and this trend will continue in the coming years.

For instance, data from Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) showed the number of older people in less developed countries, including the Philippines, is projected to increase by 140 percent by 2030, as those in more developed nations will rise by 51 percent.

The highest number of people aged 65 and older is recorded in Asia at 304 million as of July 2013, with China comprising 39 percent, or 120 million.
It is also estimated there will be around 400 million people in the region reaching their twilight years over the next five to six years.

At present, Japan has the highest average median age at 45, followed by Hong Kong, 43; Germany, 40; Singapore, 40; South Korea, 39; the United Kingdom, 37; China, 36; the United States, 35; Thailand, 34; United Arab Emirates, 30.2; Indonesia, 28; and India, 26.

While the mean age of Filipinos today is 23, the Retirement and Healthcare Coalition said senior citizens now number 7 million, 90 percent of whom are not really taken cared of.

Their current number, the organization projects, will double from 8 percent to 16 percent by  2020.

“The elderly is among the most vulnerable population right now. It’s the fastest growing [age group],” noted Dr. Marianna Sioson, Section of Nutrition head at The Medical City.

“But the problem is we’re losing our working-age population to the people abroad. We have plenty of OFWs [overseas Filipino workers], yet, it seems no one is left to take care of our old folks. So that means we need to keep them functional for as long as we can,” she said.

In doing so, Sioson stressed the importance to optimize the nutrition of elders to get them into healthy aging.

Sharing the same sentiment,  Bautista said this is timely, considering the Filipino aging population is not yet ideal in terms of nutrition and activities; hence, it has not yet hit the standard of perfection or excellence when it comes to longevity that other countries have already achieved.

“We have not yet reached the status of Japan’s [aging] group, for instance, because our nutrition and activity level is not yet that optimized,” he said. He cited the Filipino culture of being celebratory as among the contributing factors to the health and wellness status of the senior populace at present.

“We want to have parties and celebrations all the time. But the question is do we eat food that contains the essential nutrients—both micro [vitamins and minerals] and macro [proteins and carbohydrates and good fats]?” he said.

As a commitment to helping Filipinos live young longer, NHS has launched its Opt to Be Active advocacy that promotes a full and active life by making proactive choices, like maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly and keeping the mind active.

“People who optimize their health may have a biological age that is 10 years younger than their chronological age,” the NHS executive said. “At the same time, the presence of chronic conditions may accelerate the body’s decline, making us biologically older than our chronological age.”

Sioson said it is never too early to assess if everyone is meeting the energy and nutrient requirements.

Since the prevalence of developing malnutrition significantly increases as people grow older, there is a pressing need to start taking nutritionally complete oral supplements to continue to live a young and active lifestyle.

“We want Filipinos to ask themselves if there is a need for them to optimize their health and nutrient intake so that they can achieve a full life,” she said.

Conceding that the optimal health of the general Filipino elder is still a far-fetched reality in the near future, Bautista remains bullish this goal is still doable, although it will take more time.

“It’s like baby steps. The mere fact the number of older Filipinos is growing means we are slowly getting there,” he said.

To reach the kind of population of elderly in good health, he said a national initiative to promote good health among the citizenry by doing physical activities and proper nutrition is much needed.

“It’s a definitely a cooperation between the people and the healthcare professionals, with different organizations and the government,” Bautista said.

Since the Philippines observes many holidays throughout the year, most Filipinos indulge on the good food laid on top of their table on all occasions, thus, giving rise to lifestyle-related, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in the country.

In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that NCDs account for 61 percent of total deaths nationwide.

These cases are defined by the WHO as chronic illnesses not passed from person to person. They are categorized into four main types—cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes.

It is noted that simple lifestyle changes, such as preparing healthy meals and maximizing the nutrient intake, could best shield the body from NCDs.

NHS champions this approach by providing unconventional ways to bridge the gap between nutrition and therapy.

The health science arm of the leading global nutrition, health and wellness company strongly believes that the food consumed daily is the biggest single influence on one’s health.

“By shifting the way people manage health and nutrition, we have the force to improve lives around the world because beyond medicine, there is nutritional therapy,” the NHS said. “This is what is considered the point where scientific research meets human insight,” NHS Country Business Manager Angela Sison added.

As the newest business unit of Nestlé  founded in 2011, NHS is an innovative and fundamentally different type of health science company focused specifically on advancing nutritional therapy to change the course of health.

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