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Which Behaviour Affects Our Perception of Health in Older Ages?

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To understand how health policies can help improve our quality of life in older ages, it is important to look at health behaviours and their relation to health outcomes. In a recent study, Liili Abuladze and colleagues examined this relationship in Estonia, where life expectancies and self-rated health among older adults are comparatively low in Europe.

The authors looked at SHARE data of over 6,000 respondents, aged 50 and older, who rated their own health as excellent, very good, good, fair or poor in Wave 4. The health behaviour of the respondents was measured by alcohol and cigarette consumption, frequency of physical activity and dietary choices.

Results show that being male, originating from a foreign country, and having activity limitations or long-term illnesses bear high risks of reporting poor health. Some of the main concerns for men include consumption of more tobacco and alcohol, and of less fruit, vegetables and dairy products. Authors recommend to develop targeted and systematic guides for monitoring protein-energy malnutrition of older adults in Estonia. Poorer self-rated health of those with activity limitations or long-term illnesses suggests an important role of previous environment and behaviour in one's health outcomes, therefore health policies related to health behaviors should emphasise long-term perspective, rather than aiming for quick fixes.

Author(s) of the original publication: 
Amparo Necker