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Patient Educ Couns. 1989 Apr;13(2):117-31.

Health education: special issues for older adults.


The older adult population in the United States has grown substantially since the turn of the century. With extended longevity and the relatively good functional status of most older adults, prevention programs that identify and intervene on risk factors in older adults may be an effective means to dealy ill health. The availability of data to guide both the selection and evaluation of prevention services for older adults, however, is strikingly limited in virtually all areas. Until recently, all persons over the age of 65 were treated as a single category of older adults although the older population is very heterogeneous. Most agree that prevention and education for this age group should focus on the prevention of disease, maintenance of existing abilities, and on prevention of deterioration of impairments that result in dysfunction or handicap. The most effective methods for developing behavioral intervention strategies may result from an integration of the behavioral diagnostic framework and current value expectancy and social learning theories. Health education interventions based on these strategies can be very effective in older age groups in terms of both improving adherence behavior with therapeutic and prevention intervention, and potentially in reducing morbidity and excess mortality.

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