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Health Aspect


  • All of us go through the process of aging and growing old can be a pleasant experience

  • Healthy aging means preparing yourself for your later years so that you will have a healthy, happy, fulfilling and fruitful life

  • Even though aging happens naturally, healthy aging need careful planning

  • Planning for future well-being in areas such as health is important to give the elderly greater control over their independence, quality of life and dignity as they age

  • To ensure healthy aging, steps need to be taken to ensure that all the health needs can be met in old age

Why is it important to plan for healthy aging?

Being prepared and having plans in place helps the elderly to:

  • Maintain physical and mental health in order to avoid diseases/ disorders and remain active and independent

  • Postpone and reduce the undesired effects of aging

  • Have a satisfying and positive life into old age

  • Reduce or avoid costs for health care and other health care related services

What are the priority areas for health planning in elderly?

Older people might face many health related decisions in the last few decades of their lives. Taking some time to look at these issues ahead and plan accordingly can make the future easier and more manageable. Here are some areas which need prior planning:

  • Health care cost. Older adults might need more health care in old age than they did when they were younger. Therefore, it is important to make sure that you have enough saving, pension fund, health insurance coverage etc to cover all the possible health care cost. Please ensure that you keep all your health and life insurance policy information in a safe but accessible place.

  • Advance directives. The onset of a health emergency such as a stroke, heart attack or terminal illness may occur anytime. Some of this life changing events could occur suddenly. If it occurs, it may cause tremendous emotional distress at that particular time, and will not be the most suitable time to make any key decisions. Therefore, preparing advance directives ahead such as a living will and documents that state your end-of-life choice can save you and your family from unnecessary distress during crisis.

  • Potential living arrangement. While you are still healthy, it is important to make decisions about potential living arrangements especially when living with a debilitating illness later. Plan ahead which options you prefer in various health situations and consider how you can pay for it.

  • Home safety. A big house with a lot of stairs to climb may be in trend to most of first time home owner. However, this will present a serious challenge if you have health or physical problems when you get older. Therefore, it is important to ensure that safety modifications or remodeling of your living arrangements made when the need arises.Occupational therapist is a trained professional that could offer you some useful advices.

Who can assist you in the planning for healthy aging?

When you are ready to start health planning, there are people who can assist you in making the necessary arrangements, for examples:

  • Your spouse, children and family members

  • Health care providers. A detail geriatric medical assessment is important to identify the health problem early. The health care team can help to assist you to develop a plan to make sure your living arrangements are safe and will provide appropriate health care in the years ahead.

  • Lawyers. They can advise you and your partner on legal issues such as preparation of advance directives, financial arrangements and draw up legal documents.

Steps to be taken for healthy aging

Several steps need to be planned and practiced to ensure that you can live longer and healthier, for examples:

  1.   Good nutrition for aging

    • As you get older, good and balance nutrition plays an increasingly important role in healthy aging

    • To have good dentition or denture to ensure proper chewing and digestion

    • Avoid unhealthy foods as you age e.g. food which is too sweet, salty, oily or hard in texture

  1. Maintain ideal body weight

    • You need to know about the risks of excessive weight gain in elderly i.e. increasing risk of diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, heart diseases etc.

    • You need to understand how regular physical activity and healthy diet can help you to maintain ideal body weight (excessive weight gain or loss is not healthy in elderly)

  1. Staying physically and mentally active

    • It is important to be physically and mentally active at any age especially in elderly

    • You need to understand how being physically active can help you to maintain healthy body and brain in old age

  1. Looking Good

    • The normal physiological changes of aging are inevitable

    • With healthy food, physical activity and appropriate self care and personal grooming, your natural beauty and health can be enhanced

  1. Healthy sleep

    • Several factors may contribute to the inability to sleep well as we get older

    • Therefore, it is important to plan and practice sleep hygiene especially when you are getting older i.e. to practice regular sleeping pattern, avoid heavy meals or caffeine drink before bedtime, exercise for 20 – 30 minutes 5 – 6 hours before sleep but avoid vigorous exercise near bedtime and arrange a comfortable sleeping environment

    • Seeking assistance from healthcare providers for managing sleep difficulties

    • Avoid abusing sleeping pill without appropriate indication

  1. Regular health screening

    • Planning for regular health check is important to ensure early detection of chronic diseases e.g. diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, heart diseases or cancers

    • Early detection is important to ensure early treatment and prevention of disease complication and disability

    • For those with chronic diseases, regular screening for disease complication (e.g. visual or kidney impairment) is important to prevent further worsening of the disease conditions

  1. Disease prevention

    • Planning for preventive strategies can prevent multiple co-morbidities and disabilities e.g.

      • Planning for safety home environment can prevent slips, falls, fracture and disability

      • Planning for regular vaccination e.g. Pneumococcal, Influenza and Varicella vaccines can prevent the 3 common but potentially serious and disabling infectious diseases in elderly


  • Planning for healthy aging is importance to ensure that the elderly has better independence, quality of life and dignity as they age

  • Certain healthy practices have been shown to reduce the risk of developing several disorders that commonly occur in elderly.

  • These practices should be planned and carried out regularly to ensure healthy aging


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Healthy aging. http://www.cdc.gov/aging. Accessed June 18, 2014.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health Information for Older Adults. http://www.cdc.gov/aging/aginginfo/index.htm. Accessed June 18, 2014.

  3. Diana R. Planning for Your Future. http://www.everydayhealth.com/ longevity/future-planning.aspx. Accessed June 18, 2014.

  4. Tips NIH Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/brain_basics/understanding_sleep.htm#. Accessed June 18, 2014. 

  5. UK Health Centre. Vaccines for the elderly 2012. http://www.healthcentre.org.uk/vaccine/vaccines-for-the-elderly.htm Accessed June 18, 2014.

Last Review : 25 August 2014
Writer : Dr. Ho Bee Kiau
Akreditor : Dr. Cheah Wee Kooi