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Alliance for Healthy Active Aging (AHAA) Virtual Discussion  

October 1-12, 2010

The purpose of the forum is to begin the dialogue on the challenges and opportunities to support healthy active ageing and identify those persons interested in working together on global ageing. The next steps will be to compile comments for inclusion in a digest of this work to be published in collaboration with our colleagues from World Health Organization, Department of Reproductive Health and Research.

Discussion Statistics

Number of participants:  599
Number of participants' countries: 77   
Number of contributions: 172
% of contributions from developing countries: 48%
Number of countries contributing: 31

Contributing countries:

Afghanistan, Australia, Bahamas, Belgium, Belize, Canada, China, Cyprus, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Eritrea, Grenada, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Jamaica, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Nepal, New Zealand, Niger, Pakistan, Philippine, Sudan, Turkey, Uganda, UK, Ukraine, and USA.

Purpose and Objectives 


The purpose of the forum was to begin the dialogue on the challenges and opportunities to support healthy active ageing and identify those persons interested in working together on global ageing. The next steps will be to compile your comments for inclusion in a digest of this work to be published in collaboration with our colleagues from World Health Organization, Department of Reproductive Health and Research. The AHAA forum discussion site with contributors will be acknowledged in this publication. We will inform members of the dissemination of work via the AHAA.  
Day 1:  Challenges and opportunities


  1. On this United Nations International Day of Older Persons, what are the challenges and opportunities we are facing to support healthy active ageing? Please share specific examples of success stories and challenges.
  2. If healthy active ageing is our goal, how can we achieve this?
  •  What are your success stories?
  •  What community-based care models have you used?
  •  What challenges did you experience and how did you manage these challenges?

Day 1 Summary:

The contributions today highlight an important need of older persons – that of social interaction and help with basic activities which can be met by healthy ageing initiatives. It helps to remind us that health is very complex. Given the limited resources of many countries especially developing countries, although we are reminded that even developed countries have pockets of unmet need, a way forward is to integrate services for older persons into existing services including child care and NGO services.

Day 2: Patient safety issues and the elderly


  1. Do you have experiences with specific collaborative models that could enhance the quality and safety of elderly patients and users? Share with us these models. 
  2. What are some specific examples concerning the challenges in trying to provide safe environments for elderly patients in your community? Can you offer solutions to these challenges?

Day 2 Summary:

Today there were six contributions from Australia, Belize, India, Nepal, Ukraine, and USA. Participants commented on challenges and opportunities in healthy active ageing and patient safety issues and the elderly.

Day 3: Dementia


  1. What are the challenges and opportunities we are facing to support healthy active ageing in the area of dementia care? Please share specific success stories in regards dementia.
  2. Are there specific regional challenges that relate to providing high quality care to those with dementia? If so, please share those challenges.
  3. Inter-professional collaboration is essential in regards to successful care to those with dementia. Can you offer specific challenges or success stories as it relates to inter-professional collaboration and dementia care?


Day 3 Summary:

The issues facing people with dementia and their care are complex and multifaceted from diagnosis to death and no single disciplinary perspective provides all the answers or best solutions. Interdisciplinary teamwork, in theory, offers the greatest possibility of being able to meet diverse needs with best practice and creative solutions and to provide a raft of seamless, cost-effective support and intervention. In practice it is often challenging for people who were not trained to work in this paradigm, or in situations where there is entrenched historical dominance of one discipline or where families are unfamiliar with the model. Increasingly inter-professional education in gerontology is becoming the norm because disease complexity and cost demands it.

Day 4 : Dementia continued - please post a message


  1. We are not receiving very many contributions. All you need to do is reply to this email - just write a few lines, sharing your views and experience. We need to hear from you as you are the practitioners, you are the people affected by these issues. So please share this experience.

Day 4 Summary:

Today there were 8 contributions from Australia, India, Jamaica, Nepal, Pakistan, and USA. Several participants noted regional challenges to proper dementia care and discussed the stigma of ageing.

Day 5 : Dementia continued 


1. If healthy active ageing in the area of dementia care is our goal, how can we achieve this?
  • What are your success stories?
  • What community-based care models have you used?
  • What challenges did you experience and how did you manage these challenges?

Day 5 Summary:

Today we received 5 contributions from Belgium, Malaysia, New Zealand, UK, and USA. Participants described successful models of care used in their countries. Two participants emphasized a very important element in care for persons with dementia, social engagement. Others shared success stories of care of those with dementia.

Day 6 : Dementia continued with a focus on acute care and residential care 


  1. What are you success stories?
  2. Do you use specific models? If so, please share those.

Day 6 Summary:

We received 8 contributions from Afghanistan, Australia, Jamaica, Nepal, and Turkey. Participants discussed acute and residential care for dementia in their countries. Also, several participants commented on the presentation shared by guest expert, Dr. Rhonda Nay.

Day 7
Due to a technical glitch, we recently discovered 86 new contributions from 24 countries that were not included in previous digests. We have summarized them in today’s digest.

From participant comments, it is clear that there are still many challenges that we need to address in terms of healthy ageing. Many community members shared challenges that they are facing. An overwhelmingly large proportion of contributions recommended improvement in health promotion and disease prevention.

Day 8


Although we are no longer collecting new contributions for this current discussion, community members can continue to share thoughts and experiences on the AHAA Forum Discussion Board.

This digest focuses on the community’s response to the question “How can we achieve healthy ageing?” There were suggestions to encourage local ownership of programmes (i.e. financed at state level but run at community level), to emphasize public awareness campaigns utilizing both the media and social networks, and to encourage the continuation of global awareness campaigns by the United Nations.

Day 9


The community has shown a lot of excitement on the topic of inter-professional collaboration (IPC). Multiple contributions were received from members discussing the benefits they have seen from IPC or their desire to implement inter-professional collaboration within their workplace..

Day 10


 The topic of residential and acute care facilities continued throughout the week. The discussion began with describing models of care. Guest expert, Dr. Rhonda Nay, says that she strongly believes that person-centered care is a way of being with another – including the older client – and that this can be achieved in any country; it is about really connecting to the person rather than having a focus on a task, disease, or deficit. Other community members shared their experiences working with or observing care in long-term facilities. On the other hand, another participant notes that in Cyprus, people are still closely knit and elders are closely connected to family.

Day 11


This digest will focus on dementia. The community agreed on the major challenges associated with dementia. There was a consensus that dementia still has a stigma associated with it as well as lack of worldwide recognition. Additionally, many contributors noted that in their communities there has been a family dynamic change and migration increases and family members no longer take responsibility of caring for the elders.

Day 12


Welcome to the final digest of the AHAA Virtual Global Discussion Forum. On this final day we would like to share success stories written by community members over the last month. We can use these innovative examples to gather inspiration and programme ideas.

Post-forum survey results

Number of surveys completed 63

% who have passed content to others 46%

% who have or will use in their work  74%

% very satisfied with forum content 52%

Suggestions for improvement :  

  • The discussion seemed to focus on dementia. Choose another topic now, such as sarcopenia.
  • Themes of discussion should be more specific and concrete.
  • I think that forums like this one have the potential to increase the network and grow over a period of time. I will certainly be more active if given the opportunity again. The global aspect of the forum is wonderful as I teach the power of culture in maintaining meaningful occupations and should continue to be developed. Your final email had some excellent examples of regained occupations giving a sense of belonging and purpose. Many thanks for all the hard work.

References and resources

Click here for related resources and references in the community library

Organizing groups

World Health Organization Department of Human Resources for Health, World Health Organization Department of Reproductive Health and Research, University of Iowa Hartford Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence

Contributing experts/facilitators 

Dr. John Beard, Director Department of Ageing and Life Course, World Health Organization

Professor Denise Eldemire-Shearer, Head, Aging Center, University of the West Indies at Mona

Professor Karina Aase, Department of Health Studies at the University of Stavanger

Dr. Kathleen Buckwalter, University of Iowa Sally Mathis Hartwig Professor of Gerontological Nursing Research and Director, John A. Hartford Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence

Dr. Elizabeth Beattie, Director, Dementia Collaborative Research Centre - Consumers & Carers

Representatives from Dementia Daycamp: Dr. Karen Rose, Assistant Professor of Nursing at the University of Virginia, Dr. Janet Specht, Professor at the University of Iowa College of Nursing and Ann Bossen, Doctoral student a the University of Iowa College of Nursing.

Dr. David Dai, Consultant Geriatrician in the Department of Medicine, Prince of Wales Hospital, Hong Kong

Dr. Rhonda Nay, Director, Australian Institute for Primary Care and Ageing and the Victorian and Tasmanian Dementia Training Studies Centre.

Professor John Gilbert of the Canadian Interprofessional Collaborative

Steering committee

Lisa Skemp, PhD, RN University of Iowa, Margaret Usher-Patel, WHO, Patricia Abbott, PhD, RN, FAAN, Johns Hopkins, Adenike Ayobola Ebunolu, PhD, RN, Obafemi Awolowo University; Ingibjörg Hjaltadóttir, PhD, RN University of Iceland; Claudia Lai, PhD, RN Hong Kong Polytechnic University; Brendon McCormack, PhD,RN University of Ulster, Dorothy Powell, PhD, RN, FAAN, Duke School of Nursing; Denise Eldemire-Shearer, MD University of the West Indies; Ingelin Testad PhD, RN, Stavanger University; Lis Wagner, PhD, RN University of Southern Denmark; Madeline Naegle, APRN, PhD, New York University College of Nursing; Christina Fusco MA, RN, WHO, Ann Bossen MA, RN PhD Student, University of Iowa, Bonnie Kinkead, MA, HCGNE , University of Iowa


Christina Fusco RN, MSN, FNP-BC, MPH