People can stay healthy as they age, in part, by assuming personal responsibility for their health and by engaging in healthy behaviors and taking preventive measures to guard against illness and disease. While engaging in healthy behaviors and having access to preventive services and quality health care are important components of health promotion, they are not enough. Social determinants of health—such as access to employment, education, housing, healthy foods, safe streets and neighborhoods, and social supports—are also important predictors of health outcomes and health behaviors. Addressing social determinants with effective public policy and evidenced-based interventions can help to reduce barriers to healthy living.
HEALTH PROMOTION: Policy
Adequate funding for public health
Congress should review the adequacy of federal funding to support a public health care infrastructure that fosters health promotion, disease prevention, and individual and family engagement activities.
When awarding grants for pilot programs designed to improve the health of people age 55–64 through community-based public interventions, the federal, state and local governments should develop and implement methods to evaluate the impact of the CDC Healthy Aging Program on Medicare costs.
Addressing the needs of historically disadvantaged populations
National prevention and health-promotion outreach and education campaigns developed and implemented by federal, state, and local governments, along with private-sector partners, should identify and take into consideration the special needs, concerns, and barriers faced by members of disadvantaged populations, including people with disabilities and members of historically disadvantaged groups. Such campaigns should be designed and implemented in culturally and linguistically appropriate ways and with accessibility for people with disabilities, in particular, those with hearing and vision impairments.
Web-based tools to disseminate health-promotion and disease-prevention information and to generate personalized prevention plans should be accessible to people with vision and hearing impairments, developed in a culturally competent manner, available in as many languages as is feasible or provided with a website functionality for easy translation.
Facilitating health promotion
Federal and state governments should facilitate health promotion, including by:
- adequately funding preventive health services and health-promotion programs (e.g., nutritional screening and counseling, exercise and weight-control programs, and drug-, alcohol-, and tobacco-addiction treatment programs), and preventive health education programs for people most in need;
- designing and funding health-promotion programs that focus on the unmet needs of all communities, including members of historically disadvantaged groups and consumers with low incomes;
- educating individuals about risk factors for prevalent health conditions, behaviors that reduce health risks (e.g., exercise and nutrition), and the importance of receiving preventive care (e.g., mammography, cancer screening, early immunizations for children, and influenza and pneumococcal pneumonia immunizations for older Americans);
- educating the public about the effect of guns and violence on the public’s health, as well as the human costs of preventable injuries and premature deaths;
- supporting outreach and education about the value of engaging in healthy behaviors, with information targeted to consumers, family caregivers, and employers;
- identifying ways to support the implementation of evidence-based, nondiscriminatory workplace wellness programs by small employers;
- supporting the inclusion of prevention and health-promotion content in curricula for health care professionals;
- funding and supporting community-based strategies to address the social determinants of health; and
- identifying health-promoting behaviors, the ways in which such behaviors are linked to health improvements, and the costs and benefits associated with health-promoting behaviors.