NEW YORK (April 7, 2017) – On this World Health Day, the Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA) recognizes the importance of addressing and reducing the stigma surrounding depression, WHD’s 2017 theme. Depression is the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide. Recognizing the risk of depression and making appropriate care and supports accessible for older adults and their caregivers are critical to healthy and active aging for all.
“In this age of longevity, increased loneliness and loss of independence as we age leads to a greater risk of depression,” said Michael Hodin, CEO of GCOA. “We commend WHO for its groundbreaking Global Strategy and Action Plan on Ageing and Health, launched in 2016. The WHO Global Strategy is a critical step toward combatting depression and social isolation as a critical component of healthy and active aging and improving quality of life for our aging populations.”
Seven percent of the general elderly population is affected by depression. With age, rates of non-communicable diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, cancers, cardiovascular disease and diabetes are on the rise. Further, conditions related to the natural process of aging including decline in vision, hearing, muscle mass, bone density and skin health are often connected to depression, anxiety and decreased quality of life. For older adults and for their caregivers, these conditions must be closely monitored to prevent social isolation, a significant health risk associated with aging and a major contributor to depression. Family caregivers, too, are at increased risk of depression, with that risk doubled for those caring for someone with dementia.
Further, collaboration and innovation with the WHO and other global leaders to detect, address and present solutions for depression will involve multiple stakeholders including healthcare and pharmaceuticals, technology, financial services and caregiving sectors.
For more information about World Health Day 2017, visit http://www.who.int/campaigns/world-health-day/2017/en/.