Opportunities to Improve Older Adult’s Health and Quality of Life

GERONTOLOGY RESEARCH PAPER
Topic: OPPORTUNITIES TO IMPROVE OLDER ADULT’S HEALTH AND QUALITY
OF LIFE.( This assignment assesses intended course outcomes to 1) distinguish normal
aging from disease and 2) examine and evaluate the bio-psychosocial factors that affect
health in older adults)
Instructions: VERY IMPORTANT

  • Locate 10 recent articles, book chapters, and/or websites on this topic and create
    reference list using APA format.
  • Sources must have been published in the last five years.
  • Library databases recommended for this assignment include CINHAHL (Nursing and
    Allied Health Literature)
  • Write an annotated bibliography. Each citation in the reference list should be followed be
    a brief (usually about 150 word) descriptive and evaluative paragraph explaining how this
    source will help to develop your paper.
  • Formulate a thesis statement and an outline
    WRITE A SIX TO EIGHT PAGE PAPER. YOU MUST HAVE
    1) A TITLE PAGE
    2) AN INTRODUCTION: (Grab Attention, Relate Importance to Health and Aging, and
    present a Focused Thesis Statement)
    3) A BODY:
    4) CONCLUSION
    5) REFERENCE LIST

Opportunities to Improve Older Adult’s Health and Quality of Life

Outline

i. Introduction
ii. Normal Aging and Disease
iii. Biopsychosocial Factors that affect health in older adults
iv. Improving health and quality of life among the elderly
v. Conclusion

Introduction

There has been a noticeable increase of the number of adults aged more than 65 years. It
is anticipated that by the year 2030, the aged people will be more than 71 million.

OLDER ADULT’S HEALTH AND QUALITY OF LIFE
The high increase in the number and diversity of elderly people poses far-reaching consequences
in the nursing sector. Moreover, there will be unprecedented demands on the whole health care
system as well as the aging services.
Taking care of the elderly so as to promote improved and quality life poses unique
challenges; although a majority of them remain independent and healthy, many others are highly
vulnerable to experiencing anxiety and depression, developing dementia, and falling. At least
over three-quarters of the elderly suffer from a chronic condition including diabetes and arthritis,
which requires ongoing care. As a result of these health issues, the elderly are rendered incapable
of caring for themselves on a daily basis, which includes activities such as taking medications,
driving, dressing, and bathing. This paper aims at making a distinction between disease and
normal aging and identifying biopsychosocial factors that are likely to interfere with the elderly’s
health. Consequently, appropriate strategies can be devised so as to ensure that there are more
opportunities for improving the elderly’s quality of life and health. Irrespective of the fact that
there are several variations between old people, proper nutrition and physical fitness play a great
role in improving the quality of life and health.

Normal Aging and Disease

According to Fried et al (2012), aging entails a dynamic number of physiological,
biological, as well as psychosocial systems and processes that may be independent or interactive.
As a result, individuals experience wide variations. During adult aging, there are common
changes, which are normally not harmful, for example graying hair. In a majority of people,
aging also involves an inexorable and progressive function loss that results to an escalated
vulnerability to disability, frailty, and disease. Through the years, there have been a number of
theories and hypotheses aimed at elaborating this decline. However, none has been adequate

OLDER ADULT’S HEALTH AND QUALITY OF LIFE
enough to fully explore the array of psychological, biological, and physical transformation that
dominate as people age.
Several researches indicate that it is difficult to come up with a clearer comprehension of
the usual transformations that occur during aging and differentiate them from the disabilities and
diseases that older adults experience. This can be illustrated through a common thread; the
inflammation process. Eventually, this process results to transformations in organ, tissue, and
cell function and structure. Inflammation increases the progression rate and susceptibility to age-
related pathologies. Moreover, it leads to frailty irrespective of overt disease. This in addition to
other protective or risk processes that take place during various stage staring from early life have
impacts on survival and health outcomes during old age.
A majority of the elderly people suffer from dizziness, involuntary weight loss,
thrombosis, anemia, incontinence, frailty, dementia, or sensory deficits including vision loss or
hearing. There is a need for more research regarding the underlying causes of these diseases in
addition to other geriatric syndromes so as to devise more appropriate treatment approaches and
prevention strategies. Population studies have been able to uncover potent risk factors including
social, health-related behaviors, and environmental exposure factors, in addition to the lifespan’s
co-existing conditions’ influence and how they relate to disease progression.
Most often, old age comes with a progressive and significant decline in a majority of the
physiological functions, which renders one more vulnerable to chronic diseases that are age-
related. However, there is a remarkable maintenance of some functions in many people. The
elderly have an increased susceptibility to diseases because of changes that occur and are brought
about by the aging itself. Hence, manipulating the principal aging processes offers a proper way
of treating and preventing age-related diseases. A majority of the chronic diseases that the

OLDER ADULT’S HEALTH AND QUALITY OF LIFE
elderly experience are related to behavioral, environmental, and social factors and more
significantly, poor health habit.
Emerging research stipulates that epigenetic mechanisms are partly responsible for the
vulnerability to complicated and common aging diseases and more particularly, those that are as
a result of environmental influences.

Biopsychosocial Factors that affect health in older adults

Basically, gerontologists utilize the Bio-Psycho-social model in their attempt to explore
the issues and challenges that the elderly experience and develop programs for them. The models
explore how practitioners who deal with the elderly cope with sociological, psychological, and
biological aspects in regard to potent programs, individual, issues, and problems. There is a link
that exists between lifespan and genes. For instance, a wide array of genes have been found to
underlie the normal aging processes, the longevity of species including humans and other
species, and age-related diseases and pathologies. Moreover, there have been discoveries
regarding how various genes interact, the social, behavioral, lifestyle, and environment factors
and how they influence the commencement as well as the progression of various diseases.
However, more research is necessary so as to determine the interaction and roles of the diverse
aging factors (McGlynn et al. 2010).
There are a number of health behaviors and lifestyle factors that directly influence
emotional, cognitive, and physical fitness as well as the vulnerability to diseases. The biology of
aging researches have revolutionized people’s comprehension about healthy aging. There have
been immense discoveries about the cellular, molecular, and genetic processes and factors that
affect the aging course and these have provided valuable insights regarding the genesis of
disease, longevity, and aging.

OLDER ADULT’S HEALTH AND QUALITY OF LIFE
The pace of aging is influenced by a number of factors. These include the immune
system’s function, how the body responds to several stresses, and the cellular senescence’s role
as a mechanism for tumor suppression (Flanagan, 2011). Developing fetuses are often
confounded with profound physical effects as a result of harmful substances. Moreover, adult
cognitive and physical longevity and health can be reduced greatly as a result of environmental
agents’ exposure including drugs and infections during childhood.
It is worth noting that stem cells are highly responsible for contributing to tissue
replenishment and development throughout life. Stem cells are acknowledged as the ultimate
precursors to all body cells. Furthermore, they are vital tools for both regenerative medicine and
cell-based therapies. It is evident that with advanced age, organs and tissues lose function. Such
losses are attributable to a declined stem cell function (Unützer et al., 2011). This function loss is
experienced is experienced at various level, which includes the micro-environment or niche
where there is self- differentiation and renewal, the stem cells, communication among the stem
cells, niches, and target tissues, or the target tissues’ receptiveness.
In an aging adult, mobility changes can either be the precursors to even more severe
motor disorders or age-related. Aging-related processes may be the cause of sensory functions’
loss such as hearing, vision, and ability of tasting food. Moreover, these may be an indication of
underlying conditions and diseases that might be more severe.
There is also a need to understand psychological transformations that are related to age
since these are vital for advancing peoples understanding about how age influences decisions and
behaviours (Unützer et al. 2012). In turn, these give meaning to the economic well-being,
physical function, mental and physical health, social relationships, and the subjective well-being
(McAuley et al., 2009). Psychological science advancements are necessary so as to ensure better

OLDER ADULT’S HEALTH AND QUALITY OF LIFE
behavioral interventions as well as understand the mechanisms and pathways via which social
and psychological factors impact on health.
According to research, positive social interaction is acknowledged as health protective. A
number of pathways and mechanisms are related to improved mental and physical health. Some
of the social factors that influence if an individual ages successfully include volunteering, staying
active within the society, maintaining good relationships with friends and family, and making
new friends. In this regard, there is a need to ensure that the elderly stay connected to others,
particularly their age mates who are experiencing similar challenges. According to research,
people belonging to a similar age cohort have the same life stages such as having grandchildren
and retiring. Therefore, they are undergoing through similar problems as well (Diener, 2010).
Some of the diversities among the elderly include ethnicity, living arrangements, levels of
cognitive and physical functioning, education level, age, socioeconomic status, and life
experiences. These impact greatly on the sorts of activities, programs, and services that the
elderly engage in. more particularly, the living arrangements, ethnicity, and gender have a great
impact of social, psychological, and physical capabilities and habits.
It is worth pointing out that poor nutrition, lack of exercise, drug misuse and abuse, and
non-supportive health care professionals and social situations are exceptionally common during
old age. Moreover, maintaining an adequate nutrition is rendered hard as a result of loneliness, it
becomes impossible or difficult to cook and shop, and functional impairments.
Anxiety, depression, as well as other negative emotions alter the manner in which the
nervous system functions. Irrespective of the fact that these processes are useful in helping the
body to react to stressful and dangerous situations, they can damage organ, tissue, and cell
systems in cases where there is excess production. There is a reduction in adaptive immune

OLDER ADULT’S HEALTH AND QUALITY OF LIFE
response during old age, which renders the elderly more vulnerable to infectious agents and
minimizes the efficiency of vaccinations. As a result, there is a vital impact on the quality of life
and heath span of the elderly.

Improving health and quality of life among the elderly

There are several ways through which individuals can ensure successful aging. However,
it is very important to realize that all old people differ in many ways. An individual can adapt
physiologically via the use of sufficient nutrition, exercise, and health promotion efforts. Mental
or psychological health can be maintained through the use of positive attitudes in regard to
adjusting to the changes and limitations that come with old age, staying involved, attending
lectures, taking classes to promote intellectual stimulation, and spiritual or religious beliefs and
activities. If the elderly engage in local and community activities as well as religious-sponsored
activities and groups, they are able to meet with other elderly people, share, exchange ideas, and
keep loneliness at bay (Asch et al, 2009).
There are a wide array of programs sponsored by senior centers, synagogues, churches,
community centers, and local hospitals that focus on promoting screening and health awareness
among the elderly. Health promotion is basically aimed at reducing chronic diseases’ incidences
as well as promoting the quality of life. Basically, health promotion entails transforming personal
health behaviors through quitting poor health habits such as high fat diets, smoking, and
excessive alcohol use, good nutrition, and frequent exercise. Another key thing is using
nonprescription and prescription medications properly, attending medical checkups periodically,
and handling changes in life and psychological stress appropriately. Health promotion is
essential in stopping problems before they begin by prevention, opening up to the professionals
available to them, and increasing awareness.

OLDER ADULT’S HEALTH AND QUALITY OF LIFE
The physical health status of an individual is a crucial predictor of the general well-being
in one’s entire life and more specifically during old age. Taking part in physical exercise
improves life quality during old age. Research indicates that physical fitness is crucial in slowing
down the aging process as well as curtailing some of the most prevalent chronic illnesses and
degenerative diseases linked to aging (Patrick & Deyo, 2013). Reduced physical activity is often
associated with loss of stamina and strength, which usually comes with old age. It is extremely
important to promote physical fitness among the elderly since it associated with numerous
benefits; it makes a person feel better, improves sleep, reduces cancer, minimizes depression and
anxiety symptoms, promotes bone and joint health, improves muscle strength and stamina among
those with disabling conditions, reduces blood pressure, and promotes independent living.
Aerobic exercise increases flexibility, promotes cardiovascular endurance, and maintains and
builds muscle mass.
In addition to frequent physical exercise, there is a need to have a proper balance between
physical activity and the diet consumed, take plenty of fruits, vegetables, and grain products, use
diets that are low in cholesterol, saturated fat, and fat, ensure a highly varied diet, use moderate
sodium and salt diets, moderate sugars, and moderate alcohol consumption. Moreover, it is worth
emphasizing that energy requirements are low and small frequent meals should be taken. The
elderly should consume a healthy diet that consists of 25% fat, 50% carbohydrates, and 25%
protein. People aged 50years and above require a caloric requirement of 2100 calories daily
(Amarantos, Martinez & Dwyer, 2009).
Adequate nutrition basically focuses on taking sufficient protein ad calories so as to
ensure the body has materials and body fuel for repair, maintenance, and tissue building. Second,

OLDER ADULT’S HEALTH AND QUALITY OF LIFE
a variety of foods ensure sufficient minerals and vitamins that enable the body to function
properly.

Conclusion

From the foregoing discussion, it is evident that there is need for refining and coming up
with strategies for the elderly regarding physical exercise, mental stimulation, using dietary
supplements, optimal diet, quality sleep, in addition to other healthy practices so that their
likelihood of enjoying old age is increased. Moreover, there is a need for better approaches for
enhancing interpersonal, mental, and physical abilities for the elderly and increasing their
chances for attaining personal goals and making contributions to the communities in meaningful
ways. A precise identification of the lifestyles and behaviors that influence quality of life and
health promote reinforcement of prevention efforts, improves caregiving, conserves function,
and enhances symptom management. Adequate physical exercise and proper nutrition goes a
long way in ensuring successful aging.

OLDER ADULT’S HEALTH AND QUALITY OF LIFE

References: An Annotated Bibliography

Amarantos, E., Martinez, A., & Dwyer, J. (2009). Nutrition and quality of life in older
adults. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical
Sciences, 56(suppl 2), 54-64.
This article gives an elaboration of the different and varied nutrition that the elderly ought
to consume. The article is very relevant and offers a detailed explanation regarding how the
elderly should consume the various nutrients. Moreover, the exact amounts that should be
consumed are outlined. The article argues that proper nutrition among the elderly plays a great
role in improving the quality of life and health.
Asch, S. M., Kerr, E. A., Keesey, J., Adams, J. L., Setodji, C. M., Malik, S., & McGlynn, E.
A. (2009). Who is at greatest risk for receiving poor-quality health care?. New
England Journal of Medicine, 354(11), 1147-1156.
Quality health care among the elderly is another keen concern in a bid to improve the
well- being, quality of life, and health. This article argues that the elderly are at a risk of
receiving quality health care and a number of factors contribute to this predicament. Quality
health care is, however, vital in helping fight the diseases that the elderly experience, which I
imperative in ensuring prolonged and quality life. The elderly might be living alone with no
close family member to care for them. As a result of their immobility and financial challenge,
they may lack to access quality care and this often results to complication, which deteriorate
quality life.
Diener, E. (2010). Assessing subjective well-being: Progress and opportunities. Social
indicators research, 31(2), 103-157.

OLDER ADULT’S HEALTH AND QUALITY OF LIFE
The articles assessed the opportunities that can be used to assess subjective well-being
among the elderly. Including the elderly in social, community, and religious activities as much as
possible is vital in ensuring well-being and quality health among old people. Other opportunities
discussed in the article include learning chances and sporting activities.
Flanagan, J. C. (2011). A research approach to improving our quality of life. American
Psychologist, 33(2), 138.
The key focus of this article is a research that aims at identifying and assessing the
applicability of various approaches that can improve the quality of life among the elderly. The
article considers that all the elderly have had different life experiences, come from varying
cultures, and their body physiology differs significantly. Therefore, different approaches are
bound to work in different elderly people. The article was vital in that it gave an insight
regarding the various approaches that should be explored when dealing with the elderly.
Fried, L. P., Carlson, M. C., Freedman, M. M., Frick, K. D., Glass, T. A., Hill, M. J., &
Zeger, S. (2012). A social model for health promotion for an aging population: initial
evidence on the Experience Corps model. Journal of Urban Health, 81(1), 64-78.
This article focuses on the social factors that contribute mostly towards aging. Experience
Corps were used as the participants where they contributed immense knowledge about the social
factors that were responsible for aging. The article was relevant in that it revealed isolation,
depression, and loneliness as the key factors that lead to early and accelerated aging. A social
model has been suggested and it offers some of the strategies that can be used to deal with the
social challenges that contribute to aging.

OLDER ADULT’S HEALTH AND QUALITY OF LIFE
McAuley, E., Konopack, J. F., Motl, R. W., Morris, K. S., Doerksen, S. E., & Rosengren, K.
R. (2009). Physical activity and quality of life in older adults: influence of health
status and self-efficacy. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 31(1), 99-103.
This article discussed the various benefits of physical activity that the elderly derive
when they engage in sufficient physical exercise. There was a key emphasis that self-efficacy is
improved and the health status improves significantly. In addition to these, physical activity
prevents many diseases and since the body is fit, it is less susceptible to diseases. There is a step
by step discussion of how various organs are impacted upon by sufficient physical exercise.
McGlynn, E. A., Asch, S. M., Adams, J., Keesey, J., Hicks, J., DeCristofaro, A., & Kerr, E.
A. (2010). The quality of health care delivered to adults in the United States. New
England journal of medicine, 348(26), 2635-2645.
This article offers an assessment of the quality of health care that the elderly are
subjected to in the United States. This is compared to the level of health care quality among
children. It was revealed that the elderly, and particularly the elderly suffer a lot since the health
care systems fail to accommodate them fully. As a result, there are numerous complications that
could have been prevented were the diseases treated appropriately. It is recommended that health
care systems need to be more accommodative to the elderly.
Patrick, D. L., & Deyo, R. A. (2013). Generic and disease-specific measures in assessing
health status and quality of life. Medical care, 217-232.
The article was very relevant to this paper. It mainly dealt with the various measures that
can be used to assess diseases among the elderly considering the fact that it is usually difficult to
differentiate between the changes involved with aging and disease. These measures were

OLDER ADULT’S HEALTH AND QUALITY OF LIFE
extremely vital as they were used to develop strategies for improving the quality of life and
health.
Unützer, J., Katon, W., Callahan, C. M., Williams Jr, J. W., Hunkeler, E., Harpole, L., &
Langston, C. (2012). Collaborative care management of late-life depression in the
primary care setting. JAMA: the journal of the American Medical Association,
288(22), 2836-2845.
The article recognizes depression as one of the principal impediments of quality life and
health among the elderly. It suggests that in primary care settings, collaborative care
management can be used to deal with depression. The effects brought about depression were
discussed and it was clear that is depression was reduced or eliminated among the elderly; there
can be high quality life and better health.
Unützer, J., Katon, W., Callahan, C. M., Williams, J. W., Hunkeler, E., Harpole, L., &
Oishi, S. (2011). Depression treatment in a sample of 1,801 depressed older adults in
primary care. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 51(4), 505-514.
The article deals with a presentation of treating depression in a primary care setting
among the elderly. The sample of 1,801 depressed older adults was vital in that old people from
various backgrounds, with differing life experiences, whose diets vary, and with different body
physiologies were assessed. There resulted to a clearer picture on the various strategies that can
be used to manage depression when dealing with different old people.

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