What is good health? It varies from person to person and from environment to environment, so there is no universal definition of health. For example, a fragile person could have a heart attack while shovelling sand; a mountain dweller could experience anemia and shortness of breath. Thus, the definition of health should be flexible enough to allow for differences in environment and societal expectations. For older adults, this is especially important. It is imperative to define health as something that benefits the whole nation, not just an individual.
There are different ways to measure health, including function and likelihood of disease. Health is defined in reference values in textbooks on clinical medicine and diagnosis. A health examination will likely include a series of tests that determine a person’s health. Some tests are more descriptive than quantitative; others may indicate the presence of disease in an otherwise healthy person. But in general, health should be defined according to an individual’s profile, needs, and priorities. In a society, being free of disease is a public health goal, which is why vaccination of older adults is crucial.
WHO’s founding constitution describes health as a state of complete well-being, free of disease and disability. Adopted in 1946, the constitution was supposed to create a new definition of health. It was intended to go beyond the traditional, negative definition, which focused on absence of disease. This new definition reflects the importance of the genome in disease. People who place a high value on their health will strive to improve their health. So, how does health relate to disease and health promotion?
The World Health Organization defines health as complete physical, mental, and social well-being. Healthy activities and environments can be promoted and healthy situations avoided. However, some factors affect health and contribute to the medicalisation of society. This concept is problematic because it is not realistic. In addition to being unrealistic, it fails to take into account many chronic diseases and disabilities. Thus, health is not an end-all-be-all concept, but a means to an end.
According to the World Health Organization constitution, health is a fundamental human right. All human beings have the right to enjoy the highest attainable standard of health. There is no difference between race, political beliefs, or economic status. Several nation states have endorsed this right to health in their constitutions. As such, they are legally required to ensure access to quality health in a timely manner. Furthermore, they must also provide for determinants of health.
Mental and physical health are intimately linked. The relationship between these two areas is so strong, that it challenges the conventional notion of mind-body duality. Mechanisms for this association are behavioural, social, and physiological. This is the biopsychosocial model of health, which identifies several pathways of the relationship. The relationship is two-way and requires a careful balance. This model requires both physical and mental self-care and the appropriate treatment for those suffering from mental illness.