Skip to content

World Health Organization Celebrates Healthy Aging Day: We Should Too

2012 April 9

By Kathy Sykes

For the first time ever, the World Health Organization (WHO) has dedicated a special day to Healthy Aging. This is cause to celebrate—for me, for my father, a long-time advocate for older adults, and for all of us who strive to age well and in good health.

I do not remember when I first learned about the WHO definition of health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity,” but I do recall feeling this was already part of my DNA.

My Swedish grandfather grew pretty much all that was needed for a healthy and nutritious meal right in his backyard. Our meals were from garden to plate. We loved helping him pick the red raspberries and apples, dig for potatoes and harvest the herbs—ingredients of healthy meals. No pesticides were applied; instead we cut off sections that bugs beat us to.

We pretty much walked or biked everywhere whenever we needed anything.

Getting in the car was more of a luxury (and that was before we knew about air pollution). We lived in a neighborhood where everything we needed was within a few blocks. The school, and later the University, the local grocery store, the park and zoo, the pharmacy, the dentist and doctor, and even the laboratory where my mother worked, were within walking distance, so she chose to come home each day for lunch and join my brother and sister. A closely-knit neighborhood meant there were eyes on the street where we played until it was time for dinner or bed.

We had it all. The good news is that as I have gotten older, not much has changed, with the exception of an outdoor garden. The social determinants of health are needed throughout life and working to maximize healthy environments is why I work at EPA.

About the author: Since 1998, Kathy Sykes has been working for the US EPA on aging, health and environmental policy. She launched the Rachel Carson Contest in 2007 and the Building Healthy Communities for Active Aging award program 2006. She recently joined the Office of Research and Development as the Senior Advisor for Aging and Sustainability and serves as one of the Agency’s representatives to the National Prevention Council headed by the Surgeon General. She is also working on the Green Heart campaign to raise awareness of air pollution and its health effects on cardiovascular disease among health professionals and middle-aged and older women.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

7 Responses leave one →
  1. Lina-EPA permalink
    April 9, 2012

    Great blog, Kathy
    Now that my parents are in their golden years, I realize how good health habits early in life help pave the way for a healthier aging process. Although we can’t fight our genes 100%, a healthy lifestyle influences outcomes later in light.

  2. JuliusGoth permalink
    April 10, 2012

    Kathy Sykes your post about the Healthy aging day is wonderful and quiet informative i hope you will be keep in touch for more detai

  3. Arman.- permalink
    April 10, 2012

    Aging People : Unusable…..

    Almost people in my country have cultured that the aging people have finished to work, to share and to guide. People feel they are burden to society and hoping nearest with the god until pass away. However, They are still strong, high skills and experiences in all moment of life. The young people do not know how transferred its, and each start forward always different as last……

  4. kiyohisa tanada permalink
    April 10, 2012

    I went to “Kyoto, Heian-jingu Shrine” today.
    The cherry tree is beautiful,
    Because air has many fine particles,
    A flower does not shine.
    In the district, there is not such a thing.
    If it rains, the city is washed away and becomes beautiful.

  5. May 13, 2012

    Your post about the Healthy aging day is very well written. Indeed, we should honor the elderly and show them our appreciation for their contribution in society.

  6. July 13, 2012

    Fresh Healthry Vending Workplace Wellness Programs.The epidemic of obesity among children and adults is placing the need for more accessible healthy choices. Linking this surge in weight gain to vending machines has prompted a market for health vending choices.

  7. Raspberry Leaf Tea permalink
    November 3, 2012

    That’s a very motivational post Kathy :) Putting my walking shoes on now!

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS