Healthy Life is Australia’s home of ‘feel good’. It sounds far-fetched, but our society has already made great strides towards that goal, thanks to advances in medicine and improvements in healthy living. In 2014, for instance, the United States Health Interview Survey reported that 16% of people aged between 50 and 64 were impaired every day with chronic illness. Three decades earlier that number was 23%. In other words, as well as benefiting from longer lifespans, we are also experiencing longer healthspans” – and the latter is proving to be even more malleable. To paraphrase and update a speech from John F Kennedy given at the first White House Conference on Ageing in 1961, life can indeed be added to years, rather than just years added to life.
If there is something that needs treatment, then it’s best for it to be checked out as soon as possible. This goes for your mental as well as physical health. That’s why if you are feeling unwell at all it’s best to see your GP. If nothing else, it means you can be reassured and stop worrying about it.
The indicator is calculated following the Sullivan method which is widely used by experts across the world since the 1970’s. It is based on prevalence measures of the age specific proportion of population with and without disabilities and on mortality data. Its interest lies in its simplicity, the availability of its basic data and its independence of the size and age structure of the population. The health status of a population is inherently difficult to measure because it is often defined differently among individuals, populations, cultures, and even across time periods. The demographic measure of life expectancy has often been used as a measure of a nation’s health status because it is defined by a single vital characteristic of individuals and populations – death. However, the measure of life expectancy has limited utility as a gauge of a population’s health status because it does not provide an estimate of how healthy people are during their lifespan.
This support person could be your case manager or other support worker from a day program or Personal Helper And Mentor (PHAM) program, for example. It could be a neighbour, friend, someone in your family, or even your psychiatrist or GP. It can be anyone who knows you’re trying to lead a healthier life and agrees to help and keep a friendly eye on how you’re getting on.
However, when comparing outcomes for groups with very different life expectancies, the proportion of life spent in poor health is also useful. Two populations may both spend on average 15 years in poor health which might be a quarter of life for a group with life expectancy of 60, but only a sixth for a group with life expectancy of 90.