Active ageing and personal independence targeted

 January 27, 2014
By Javier Garcia

Last December, the Basque Autonomous Community Health Plan 2013 – 2020 was presented, with a clear focus on caring for the elderly.

The case of the Basque Country may appear to be a paradigm, given that its healthcare system is already advanced in this field, implying its approach might offer some clues about future tendencies for meeting the growing demands on health services.

One such trend which is becoming ever more noticeable is the increase in life expectancy, a situation that we have dealt with on several occasions as both a challenge and an opportunity. With forecasts predicting 20% more people over the age of 64 in 2020 and a 50% rise in over 84-year-olds, the issue is far from trivial. Therefore, Osakidetza (The Basque Health Service) has put the focus on the elderly, for whom they want to ensure a longer life and one free from ailments and serious illness

“The concept of the family has changed, we have more and more elderly people living alone”

Jon Darpón, Basque Health Minister.

The Plan (also known as The Bible of Health in the Basque Country) includes over a hundred steps to be taken towards a better quality of service, but also increased equality. To this end, some key factors to move towards such a scenario have been identified, which are related, to a great extent, to prevention in those over the age of 65: reduce deaths from cancer and achieve healthier ageing.

“Hospitals must open up to the community, they must address more acute diseases, supporting primary care”

Jon Darpón, Basque Health Minister.

Focusing on the latter, active ageing and personal independence are fundamental. Moderate physical exercise, coupled with greater social involvement, the performing of intellectual activities and communication with one’s surroundings, complement health support services and allow the elderly to stay in their own homes for longer with maximum independence. Whilst  attaining this objective on an individual basis largely depends on the elderly person in question, it remains clear that social services should help provide this ideal situation through Homecare and Telemedicine.

“We must try to bring care services to people’s own surroundings”

Jon Darpón, Basque Health Minister.

Technological advances such as the elderly care platform, Kwido, constitute a key ally for strategic plans such as the one at hand, even more so in cases in which the elderly person lives alone or suffers from a chronic illness. In such instances, telemonitoring can become instrumental in finding customized solutions, continuous and closely managed care, while safeguarding the principles of efficiency and quality of service.

“We resolve acute pathologies well, but people over a certain age suffer from chronic conditions, which they have to learn to live with. This calls for a different approach in healthcare”

Jon Darpón, Basque Health Minister.