International Day of Older Persons: The role of Health Literacy in the quality of life of the Elderly

On the occasion of the International day of Older Persons, on October 1st, as established by the United Nations General Assembly, Prolepsis Institute is calling for action to improve health literacy, in view of the ageing population in Greece as well as in the EU. Health literacy, one of the social determinants of health and a significant factor in improving it, has been defined as people’s knowledge and competence to access, understand and apply health information, and is thus one of the prerequisites for managing health and illness of the elderly.

Prolepsis Institute has taken important initiatives to that direction. With a view to promoting proper use of medicines and to preventing accidents among elderly people in particular, the Institute has been taking action by organizing events in Open Care Centers for the Elderly in order to inform participants about  the most commonly reported problems , to train them on the best way to recognize symptoms related to improper use of medication and to give them practical advice on proper use of medicines. Additionally, useful instructions on accident prevention are provided, as they have been developed by Prolepsis Institute and other partners within the European program Alpha-to-Omega – New Pathways Towards Volunteering and Life Learning for Senior European Citizens (2006-2008) . In total, 19 informational events have been hosted to date. On behalf of the Institute efforts  are being made to secure funds and create partnerships with both private and public bodies, in order to respond to the growing need for initiatives for the elderly. In October and November 2014, Prolepsis Institute with the generous support of Interamerican, organized three such events in Open Care Centers for the Elderly (A’ OCCE Ellinikon, D’ OCCE Kallithea, Central OCCE Amarousion).

Prolepsis Institute aims at developing evidence -based guidelines to be used by policy making bodies in order to help establishing a better approach on health literacy among the ageing populations of member-states of the EU.  Thus Prolepsis Institute in cooperation with 20 scientific organizations and universities has been implementing the European Program “IROHLA- Intervention Research on Health Literacy among Ageing Population” for a period of 3 years (2012-2015).

More precisely, in the context of this program, Prolepsis Institute implemented a pilot program in Greece, during the period of April-July 2015, with a view to improving elderly people’s self-management skills through the use of new technologies. To cover the needs of the pilot application, an interactive website has been created to provide personalized information to older people. This website has been an essential tool for training users in the following fields:

·        Improving awareness and knowledge regarding healthy eating and physical exercise

·        Adopting healthy eating habits and making physical activity a part of older people’s everyday lives by setting weekly goals

·        Using applications based on new technologies

Innovative initiatives such as the aforementioned are particularly important in countries like Greece, where the issue of low health literacy rates is serious, given that only 31.3% of people over 60 have successfully completed at least their secondary education. The data published in the annual report of the non-profit organization HelpAge International regarding the ageing of the population and the quality of life of the elderly is alarming for Greece which ranks 79th out of 96 countries.

More information on the IROHLA Program can be found here: http://www.irohla.eu/home/ and www.prolepsis.gr
The following pictures are indicative of the application:


Some indicative pictures for the informational brochures on accident prevention amongst the elderly can be seen here:

Picture 1

Picture 2

Picture 3