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The older individual


November 21 2016 till February 3 2017

Admission requirements
Bachelor degree and admission to Master Vitality & Ageing

In this course students gain understanding about perspectives of older people on health and ageing. We will first focus on risk and resilience factors that determine vitality and well-being. Older individuals differ greatly not only as to the extent to which they experience increasing somatic, functional and social changes or limitations, but also in their self-regulation abilities to adapt to adversity and to reach goals that people consider important to themselves. Therefore, alongside calendar age, the concept of biological age is very important to understand individual differences. In this course, the notion of vitality and resilience will be further explained by introducing common challenges to health in older age.

Common diseases and conditions among the elderly comprise conditions like osteoarthritis, heart disease, high blood pressure, dementia and depression. Other problems affecting day-to-day activities such as mobility problems, incontinence, cognitive problems, depression and sensory disorders also often occur with increasing age. Moreover, many older individuals experience several concurrent chronic conditions (multimorbidity or comorbidity) and experience problems with multiple pharmacological medications (toxity).

In this course, students gain a basic understanding of such diseases and limitations which are common in ageing individuals. A brief introduction of these challenges to health will be used to elaborate on personalized health care, vitality in older age, screening for risk and resilience factors, goal-setting and other multidisciplinary interventions for elderly to enhance personalized health care. Students will learn that the goal of health care for these older individuals is not only a matter of maintaining physical and mental health, but also remaining independence and participation in social activities. The ability of older people to adapt and to reach goals that they consider important, will contribute to their vitality.

Course objectives
The student:

  • has current knowledge and understanding of somatic, psychological, functional and social mechanisms in older individuals, including healthy ageing and vitality

  • is able to analyse problems in light of multimorbidity and evaluate and apply innovations on case evaluations of older patients

  • is able to apply and review the value of the concepts such as risk and resilience factors, vitality in older age, goal-setting and other multidisciplinary interventions for elderly as a response to challenges to health and well-being

  • is able to critically establish the value and applicability of scientific results and studies for the older population.

  • is able to judge the appropriateness and chance of success of innovations for the cure, care or wellbeing of older people, using the concepts of vitality and ageing

Mode of instruction
Interactive lectures, tutor groups, activities, self-study assignments

Assessment method
Written exam and oral and written assignments, in groups or individual. More information will be published on blackboard.

Reading list
Will be published on blackboard.