Monday, 4 February 2008
Health and well being of older people
Today was the first day of a new module that I am co-ordinating looking at health and well being of older people. We have a small group of 5 students and I started by asking them all to introduce themselves and say why they were interested in the module. The first girl started by saying that she thought that all older people became a bit like children the older they got. There was a sharp intake of breath from some of the others in the room and nods of agreement from one other participant. Both were international students from Africa, where the best thing that you could do to improve the health and wellbeing of older people there is to ensure that more of them live to adulthood and then don't die of some treatable disease before they get to 50 and the notion that you might have to eat a healthy diet and do more exercise is laughable in a place where many people don't get enough to eat. One of them told me that where he comes from if someone has a stroke they think of it as witchcraft or a sign of the devil. I feel horrendously out of my depth as half the group want to look at how you optimise health in a society where we are at liberty to abuse ourselves for as long as we like and then expect to be cared for whilst the other half don't really understand the culture of elderly care as there is limited need for it where they come from. Could be a difficult week!