In 2021, Portugal had about 4,000 people over the age of 100, according to data from Pordata, which estimates that in the next three decades, until 2050, this number could exceed 10,000. A scenario that is very positive from Manuel Lopes’ perspective, because it means that we are able to create conditions for people to reach this age. “We are an old country, and that’s good,” said the professor at the São João de Deus Nursing School, University of Évora, who was present in the second podcast Transformar o SNS, whose theme was precisely “Health promotion, lifestyles and aging – there is an urgent need for new answers “. However, the professor acknowledges that it is difficult to combat the disease burden, which is still very high over the age of 65. The solution, he points out, is to develop a set of health-promoting and disease-preventing strategies throughout the life course and not just in more advanced stages. “Investing in these policies has guaranteed results, though not in the short term,” he stresses.
Watch the video cast above or, if you prefer, listen to the podcast:
An opinion shared by Pedro Maciel Barbosa, who adds that these policies can and should work from a prevention perspective, in a logic of screening or vaccination, but also in a logic of strengthening healthy moments. “The latter involves positive behaviors for this contribution – such as exercise and maintaining a balanced diet – as we all know,” explains the physiotherapist at ULS Matosinhos, who also participated in the podcast hosted by DN. “What we’re trying to suggest is that health reflection is carried out through people’s lives.”
However, experts argue that health education is an essential component for people to have information, make better decisions and be able to manage their health throughout their lives. “And this education must take place not only in the compulsory education, but also at the higher education level,” he emphasizes, recalling the recent study which shows that the literacy level of students, teachers and researchers in the higher education is low. Therefore, “we realize that these educational tools must accompany people’s entire journey and all socio-economic features, and maintain greater concern for those who are poorer or less literate, because the scientific evidence is complete and the risk of getting diseases physically and mentally is very high. greater. in these social strata “.
When it comes to promoting skills, Manuel Lopes emphasizes the importance of doing so at any point in life. “If it is to be applied to older people, we can even combine the promotion of reading skills with other types of strategies that also help, for example, increase coexistence between generations and combat loneliness,” he suggests.
These challenges require a lot of reorganization and management, which means there is a lot of work to do. For example, says Manuel Lopes, “if we are to analyze the national health plan, perhaps the most important instrument for strategic health planning in Portugal, we find no reference to multimorbidity and the approach to multimorbidity and dependence, which is an absolutely overwhelming reality”. These issues, he argues, need to be put on the table and discussed because they require everyone’s contribution. One of the strategies that this working group proposes, adds Pedro Maciel Barbosa, is a reflection on community care or home care. “It’s something that the SNS has transformed, found solutions, but unfortunately they are fragmented and it’s the right time to reconsider them.”
If you want to know more about these suggestions, be sure to listen to the podcast, which is available from today on DN’s website.