People can stay healthy as they age, in part, by assuming personal responsibility for their health. They can engage in healthy behaviors and take 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 reduce barriers to healthy living.
HEALTH PROMOTION: Policy
HEALTH PROMOTION: Policy
Adequate funding for public health
Congress should allocate sufficient funds to support and maintain a robust public health infrastructure and population health. It should foster health promotion, population health disease prevention, individual and family engagement activities, and preparation for and response to acute and chronic public health challenges.
Federal and state governments should ensure the collection and public reporting of comprehensive, accurate data during an epidemic or pandemic and other public health crises or natural disasters.
Federal and state governments should work together to establish uniform data collection requirements for assisted living facilities during epidemics/pandemics.
Data collection should include demographic information, including race, ethnicity, and other key factors.
Congress should provide adequate federal funding to support a public health care infrastructure. It should foster health promotion, disease prevention, and individual and family engagement activities.
Needs of historically disadvantaged populations
National prevention and health-promotion outreach and education campaigns should be developed and implemented by federal, state, and local governments, along with private-sector partners. These campaigns should target all populations including those at risk. Governments should also address barriers to adequate care, as well as access to social and environmental supports. Such campaigns should be designed in culturally and linguistically appropriate ways and delivered by trusted sources.
Outreach should be done on the federal, state, and local levels. It should include public- and private-sector partners. Efforts should be accessible for people with disabilities, including those with hearing and vision impairments.
Web-based tools to disseminate health-promotion and disease-prevention information and generate personalized prevention plans should be:
- accessible to people with vision and hearing impairments;
- developed in a culturally competent manner; and
- available in as many languages as is feasible or provided with a website functionality for easy translation.
Facilitating health promotion
Health-promotion programs should focus on the unmet needs and preferences of all communities, including members of historically disadvantaged groups and consumers with low incomes.
Federal and state governments should facilitate health promotion 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 who need them;
- funding and supporting community-based strategies to address the social determinants of health;
- 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; 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.
Policymakers at all levels should encourage individuals to protect their health by taking advantage of well-funded, evidence-based health-education opportunities and affordable and appropriate preventive health measures.