The World Health Organization

The World Health Organization recognizes healthy aging’s importance in promoting a healthy, safe, and socially inclusive lifestyle for all ages. However, older persons in poverty have a different path to good aging. Poverty may have a major influence on social determinants of health, which affect older individuals’ health. This discussion examines how poverty affects older adults’ social determinants of health, focusing on their struggles to access essential healthcare, stable housing, proper nutrition, social activities, and health literacy. By understanding the junction of poverty and socioeconomic determinants of health, we can determine the urgency of addressing this problem and establish effective policies and interventions to promote healthy aging for everyone.

How poverty impacts older individuals’ social determinants of health and public health initiatives

Healthcare Access: Poverty hinders healthcare access for older persons. Health insurance, prescription drugs, and regular medical checkups may be out of reach due to financial restraints. Thus, they may postpone medical treatment, resulting in untreated health issues and deterioration. In economically deprived locations, older persons’ access to vital medical treatment is further hampered by inadequate transportation and healthcare facilities.

According to MacGuire (2020), housing and Lifestyle: Poverty may limit older individuals’ housing alternatives, resulting in unhealthy living situations. Unstable housing raises the danger of homelessness, environmental risks, and social isolation. Substandard living conditions may raise older individuals’ risk of disease, injury, and mental disorders.

Nutrition and Food Insecurity: Due to food insecurity, elderly persons in poverty struggle to eat well. Due to budgetary constraints, they may choose cheaper, less nutritious meals, resulting in malnutrition and chronic illnesses. They are also more prone to illnesses and have poorer immune systems due to food instability, contributed by inequality in the distribution of resources.

Social Support and Community Engagement: Poor elderly persons sometimes experience social isolation. They may feel lonely and unhappy due to budgetary constraints limiting them from attending community activities. Strong social support networks are essential for good aging since social isolation is associated with poor mental health and cognitive impairment in older persons. Poverty and lesser educational attainment may influence older adults’ health literacy. Low-educated people may struggle to understand health information, manage drugs, and make healthcare choices. Knowledge gaps may contribute to poor health habits and difficulty navigating the complicated healthcare system.

Recreation and Leisure: Recreational and leisure activities are vital for older individuals’ physical and emotional health. However, poverty may restrict access to these activities, depriving older persons of exercise, cognitive stimulation, and social engagement (Gao et al., 2020). Reduced participation in such activities may reduce the quality of life and functional ability.

Generally, poverty’s effects on older individuals’ social determinants of health must be addressed to promote healthy aging and reduce health inequalities. Policies that address poverty’s core causes and help older individuals should be the focus of public health initiatives. Poverty-stricken elderly individuals may benefit from cheap healthcare, housing, food, and social assistance. Health literacy and community involvement projects may also enable older persons to make educated health and well-being choices. By recognizing and addressing the special issues encountered by older persons living in poverty, society may progress toward the World Health Organization’s goal of healthy aging, where all people, regardless of age or economic situation, can live healthy, safe, and socially inclusive lives.

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