World Health Day 2012

World Health Day is celebrated every year on 7th April, the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organisation, and provides an opportunity to start collective action to improve the health and wellbeing of people across the globe. Each World Health Day is themed, highlighting an area of priority for WHO – this year’s theme is ‘Ageing and health: Good health adds life to years’.

Over the past century life expectancy has dramatically increased, leading to a growing ageing population worldwide who face a number of distinct health challenges. The main issues for affecting older people’s health in all income groups over the world are noncommunicable diseases, which include heart disease, stroke and dementia – in 2010, there were 35.6 million people living with dementia globally and numbers are expected to double over the space of the next 20 years. Longer life expectancy also affects social structures and relationships and the need to increase participation in ‘age-friendly’ social environments has been identified by WHO as key for fostering good mental health and wellbeing amongst older people.

The Reader Organisation recognises the specific issues that affect the health of older people, and our important ongoing work with older people is helping to ensure that their levels of health, wellbeing and social participation are significantly improved as a result of regular shared reading. Our recent evaluation results for our Bupa Reader-in-Residence Pilot Project speak for themselves, but speaking volumes are the stories that come straight from the older people we work with.

TRO’s work with older people has also recently been highlighted by Living With Dementia, the monthly members magazine of the Alzheimer’s Society. Their March issue featured an article entitled ‘Reading for Pleasure’,  detailing the benefits of Get Into Reading in care home settings.

We’re spreading the benefits of shared reading even further amongst older people with the launch of our Merseyside Volunteer Reader Scheme, funded by the Big Lottery. Volunteers taking part in the project will be trained to take Get Into Reading to older people in care homes across Merseyside. We’re currently looking for volunteers in Wirral who may be experiencing mental ill health or unemployment to take part in the scheme as well as care homes in Wirral who want to run a volunteer-led reading group. For more information please visit our website or e-mail christinejohnson@thereader.org.uk

And because not only is today World Health Day, but also William Wordsworth’s 242nd birthday, what better way to celebrate than with a rather appropriate poem from the man himself…

Such Age, How Beautiful!

Such age, how beautiful! O Lady bright,
Whose mortal lineaments seem all refined
By favouring Nature and a saintly Mind
To something purer and more exquisite
Than flesh and blood; whene’er thou meet’est my sight,
When I behold thy blanched unwithered cheek,
Thy temples fringed with locks of gleaming white,
And head that droops because the soul is meek,
Thee with the welcome Snowdrop I compare;
That child of winter, prompting thoughts that climb
From desolation toward the genial prime;
Or with the Moon conquering earth’s misty air,
And filling more and more with crystal light
As pensive Evening deepens into night.

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