Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) has started a new initiative recently, called The Centre for Studies on Healthy Aging (CSHA). The initiative, started in May 2020, was taken up in response to international and national initiatives to address the rapidly increasing population of older adults. The overarching aim of CHSA is to promote health and participation in old age. Besides older population, CSHA will also address younger age groups and encourage them to be healthy and independent, so that they are able to participate in valued activities as they age.
One of the main objectives of the centre is to support safety and maximal functional abilities among older people with or without health problems. CHSA would provide a platform for researchers, practitioners, technical experts, and others to work together so they can identify and address the needs of the older population of the country and help them in to achieve healthy aging. The centre would be involved in activities like knowledge dissemination through education and creation of awareness in the public, to support healthy aging and aging-in-place (living in residence of their choice as long as they are able to). Some other activities include advocacy, research and capacity building.
CSHA includes members from different disciplines from across MAHE institutions. The team has already started activities related to dementia, fall prevention in older adults and activities to encourage physical fitness. They are planning to expand their scope of work.
Speaking about the initiative Dr Sebestina Anita Dsouza, Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, Manipal College of Health Professions and the coordinator of the centre said, “The main aim of this centre is to develop a healthy older population. People are now living longer but with multiple health problems. The family structure is also changing, with the number of joint families decreasing and nuclear families are on the rise. These issues have significant socio-economic consequences especially in a developing country like India. Our population in the next decade will see a rise in the number of older people and we need to help our older generations to achieve healthy aging and happy lives. In fact, The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared 2020-2030 as the Decade of Healthy Aging to address the challenges of an aging population”
Dr Dsouza further said, “CSHA will also address younger people and educate them about the benefits of being healthy and independent. This will hopefully lead to them being able to participate in valued activities when they get older and help them achieve an enriched old age. We are looking forward to work with interested members of the community, especially older adults and organizations that help older adults to achieve our aim. With co-operation from the society and our team of interdisciplinary experts we hope to solve issues of the older generation and help them lead a happy and healthy old age”