Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a condition of “complete physical, mental and emotional well-being” and not just the absence of illness and disease. A number of definitions have also been used over the years for different applications. While no two definitions are exactly alike, a few generalizations can be made:
The first definition, from the World Health Organization (WHO), is “the state of complete health that involves absence or minimal limitation of diseases, physical suffering, accidents, and other factors that may harm the body.” The WHO uses two distinct parts in order to discuss the concept of health: the physical and the mental aspects. In the physical aspect, the condition of the body is taken into account. Disease and injury are also considered as physical constraints. Mental aspects include the capacity to enjoy life and the capability to cope with circumstances and diseases.
In its simplest form, good health can be described as the absence of illness and physical constraint. The second part, the mental health, makes sure that the person can function well at home, at work, and with friends and family. Both aspects are interrelated and intertwined; poor health leads to physical illness and poor health then to psychological ill health. In order to achieve well-being, the mental health of an individual must be sound enough to ensure a happy and fulfilling existence.
The third definition, from the Center on Mental Health and Development at the University of Washington, emphasizes the interdependence of health and well-being. To be able to thrive, humans need both mental and physical well-being. Illness and even injury can negatively impact one’s ability to live a normal life. The best health promotion strategy, therefore, would be to take care of both aspects in equal measure through a comprehensive range of strategies.
On the other hand, the definition of disease might also be seen as the most definitive explanation. The disease can affect any part of the body or mind. The first three definitions all involve the presence of some disfigurement or bodily harm but what makes them distinct is the absence of an external cause. The disease has been shown to lead to mental and emotional disorders; therefore, being physically healthy can go a long way in countering its adverse effects.
Like any other disease, there is a possibility for the recurrence of said disease. Though not all diseases are curable, the recurrence of these diseases is preventable through early detection, proper medication, and treatment. For this reason, efforts must be made to maintain a good health status among older adults in order to minimize the chances of suffering from their diseases. As such, a number of public health programs have been developed to promote healthy living. They provide information and advice on proper nutrition, regular exercise, and other important lifestyle practices.