2.3 Impact of current lifestyle choices on future needs for health and social care services
According to the medical dictionary, Lifestyle is defined as ”The constellation of habitual activities unique to a person, which lend consistency to activities, behaviour, manners of coping, motivation, and thought processes, and defines the way in which he/she lives; lifestyle activities include diet, level of physical activity, substance abuse, social and personal interaction.” Factors like the advanced technologies, globalization of trade, urbanization, et al, are beneficial and lead to positive outcomes but at the same time we can talk about negative effects on population, bringing up sedentary life patterns und unhealthy dietary patterns, an increase in the consumption of tobacco, alcohol or the use of illegal drugs. To be healthy, is one of the fundamental rights of every human being, therefore to reach the highest possible health standards, a holistic approach is required, that goes behind the traditional curative care, involving everyone from stakeholders, providers and least but not last, communities. Healthy Lifestyle choices from an early age are recognised to have a positive impact on the needs and health for Social Care at the stage when people are getting older, hypothetically a choice of lifestyle can be considered an investment for the future. Grossman model analysis for ”The demand of health” in one of the Pub Med articles, ”Dev Health Econ Public Policy, 1998”, rises the demand for health from the model in which health investment is seen as a consumption and as an investment good, an approach where the individual can decide his level of health, hence his life span. To begin with, an individual is granted a certain quantity of health capital, which over time is belittled, but can be replaced by investments like medical care, exercise, diet, et al. So, the level of health is not treated as an external cause but is influenced by the amount of resources the individual assigns for the production of health. As an example, educated people are likely, more efficient producers of health, hence a lower price for their capital of health is demanded.
Fries (1980), suggests that the need for medical services and social care might be reduced if the outbreak of chronic diseases and disability can be put on hold. So, having as objective to reduce or postpone health problems, procedures to modify or change unhealthy lifestyle factors at an early stage in life, were winning a significant attention in the current researches. The level of disease in the population and the skill to improve policy is seen as influencing the future demand of care. According to the ‘Office for national Statistics 2006’ the big challenge for the future is chronic disease and also a trend in long-lasting illness and disability in younger population. Therefore, the changing burden of disease associated with the ageing population is already high in the minds of policymakers. There are reports about the differences in self-reported longstanding illness by region, employment status or socio-economic group. The number of incapacity-related benefit claimants has tripled since 1979 and is increasing year-on-year. (Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit 2005)
As a summary from the ‘Health Policy futures’, is recognised that:
- ”There is a steady increase in morbidity. Most diseases in the future will be of a chronic nature and require health and social care over long episodes in time.
- There has also been a massive (62 per cent) growth in the number of young people with disability since 1972.
- Poor mental health and neurodegenerative ailments are becoming more prevalent.
- There are differences in self-reported health. Discrepancies in disease have implications for where care is provided and to whom in the future. Regional forms in disease shift, and effective and rightful provision of care should follow need.
- Health differences replicate social inequalities. Trends in equality are important predictors of future health status and areas of need for care.”
As indicated in the article ”Archives of internal medicine”, an unhealthy lifestyle, is the lifestyle where a person is engaged in activities that can be harmful to one’s health, like smoking, not exercising regularly enough, eating unhealthy on a regular basis and not keeping a healthy weight, alcohol consumption, et al.
Alcohol consumption- recent increase of alcohol consumption reflects in the recent alcohol related deaths that has more than doubled (Office for National Statistics 2006)
Smoking- In comparison with alcohol consumption the number of people smoking has decreased over time, from 45 per cent to 24 per cent. This is reflected in the drop in smoking related illnesses. (Office for National Statistics 2005) However trends like alcohol use, obesity or other lifestyle factors related to cancer can inverse these trends. Smoking is considered an activity that will directly lower the health of human’s respiratory system and all related systems. According to, ”Centre of Disease, Control and Prevention”, smoking is damaging almost all organs in our body, and increases the chance of developing lung cancer or any heart disease and will never be considered a healthy lifestyle.
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Diet- The phrase ‘you are what you eat’, has been around for who knows how long now. Eating well sustains a healthy body and mind, thus is not likely to be the same if someone may choose junk food over fresh vegetables but at the same time ‘Prevention is key’. According to” Food Standards Agency’s, 2005′, there is an increase in the number of respondents of eating fruit and vegetables. Citizens cannot work to their full capacity if they are sick, and as a result the national’s safety and economic health will suffer, making it weak economically and military. As a result, this is why city, state and national governments care about their citizens to be involved with health promotion which is defined by the WHO, to increase control over their health and its determinants.
Exercise- Daily exercise is seen as very important for cardiovascular health, weight, upkeep our overall health, therefore exercising regularly will help burn calories and stimulate muscle tissue. All this will lead to a better muscular structure and a much lower overall weight. Being overweight puts stress on joints and bones and at the same times increasing the risk of diabetes and heart disease. According to the ‘National Health Services’, our body weight is affected by the quality and quantity of food that a person eats as well, therefore in order to have a healthy lifestyle, healthy foods, fruit and vegetables are recommended because they contain the vitamins and minerals for all our body needs.
These are example of modifiable lifestyle factors, which can be related to grave health conditions, like cancer, myocardial infarction, thus they can be related to some daily life activities at a later stage in life. All these factors will have a significant impact on the health and social care system. Evidence are suggesting that the improvement of these factors will prevent functional limitations associated with older age and will lead to a healthier and more independent way to age. (Lanz, et al. 2001)
The report, ‘Engaging with care: A vision for the health and care workforce of England’, published in September 2007, is analysing the policies, directions and identifies the routes for future actions, establishing trends and challenges in identifying common grounds in health and care policy guidelines at local and national level. The aim is to empower all those involved in health, in their different roles, to influence the health and care policy and practice. It is well known that the demand for care is shaped by disease patterns, however the patterns of disease are influenced by social determinants.
- Health Policy Futures Engaging with care: a vision for the health and care workforce of England, The Nuffield Trust, paper 2, prepared by Morris Z., (2007), available at: http://www.health.jbs.cam.ac.uk/research/cuhresearch/downloads/reports/socialcontext.pdf, accessed on: 24/01/2017
- Nocera S.,(1998), The demand for health: an empirical test of the Grossman model using panel data, PubMed, available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10662408, accessed on: 24/01/2017
- The Free Dictionary, (2003-2017), available at: http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Life-style+choice, accessed on: 24/01/2017
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