Nature and leisure activities in natural areas and its influence on active and healthy ageing
TOURISM AND LEISURE ACTIVITIES IN NATURAL AREAS AND ITS INFLUENCE ON ACTIVE AGEING
Ambienta 45: Consultancy for Environment and Sustainability (Member of the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing) This article begins with a set dedicated to share with those who work on "Active Ageing" and have our vision of the development of the initiatives which we participate and in general, on the good work of those who are part of this new way to understand innovation in Europe.
The Europe of 2020 strategy aims to achieve smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, with high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion. The European Union has identified the Active and Healthy Ageing, as one of the greatest challenges of all European countries and at the same time as a great opportunity for Europe to lead the innovation and respond to this challenge worldwide.
Among the flagship initiatives designed by the European Union to achieve its goals, stand-called "European Innovation Partnership" (EIPs), which include all the value chain of research and innovation. The EIPs want to be a new way to integrate research and innovation, and giving solutions to an already identified challenge, leading to measurable results.
As a sign of momentousness that involve Europe to find solutions to the challenge of the ageing population, the first of these was the "European Association of Innovation" that was launched out was precisely the "European Innovation Partnership on Active & Healthy Ageing "(EIP-AHA), coinciding also with the celebration in 2012 of the European Year of Active Ageing.
This initiative was created with the primary objective of increasing the expected further development of innovative products and services that help older people stay healthy, active and independent for longer. Moreover, this initiative will also help to ensure that social and European health care systems remain effective and sustainable and promote market competitiveness.
To achieve these aims, the partnership will focus on three aspects:
1. Prevention and health promotion - medical technology, medicines and treatments for chronic diseases and other age-related problems.
2. Integrated health and social care for the elderly, improving home care and self-care, and new innovative solutions at a large scale for long-term care for the elderly.
3. An active and independent living for seniors, assisted with commodities and innovative services.
They also consider other aspects such as regulatory, financing, etc...
Currently there are under way six lines of action open in 2012:
· Action A1 -. Innovative formulas to ensure patients to follow their prescriptions - an officially approved action in at least 30 European regions.
· Action A2 -. Innovating solutions to prevent falls and support early diagnosis for older people.
· Action A3 -. Cooperation to help prevent functional decline and frailty, with a particular focus on malnutrition.
· Action B3 -. Spread and promote successful models of integrated and innovative care for chronic diseases among elderly patients, such as remote monitoring age.
· Action C2 -. Improve assimilation solutions for interoperable ICT independent living through global standards to help older people stay independent, mobile and in activity longer.
· Action D4 -. Additionally, encourage networking and knowledge sharing on innovation for buildings, cities and environments, friendly to the elderly.
Precisely, in this last Action Plan theme to which we refer to in the title of this article it is the background of the ability to enjoy activities of leisure in general and tourism in particular in natural areas, it is guessed to be an opportunity still unexplored, for both the person and the social and economic development in large parts of Europe.
In “Ambienta 45” we have been believing for a long time on the valuation of natural resources as a mean of differences for products and services. We believe that the environmental wealth of Europe must be considered one of the cornerstones of the so often repeated "sustainable development" and as such, must be a differential value to the activities taking place in these territories. That is why we believe in the need to study, how this natural wealth must be taken into account when designing the European response to the global challenges of ageing.
During these two years, since the launch of this first EIP, we have worked together with other members of the Working Group D4 "Innovation Age-friendly buildings, cities and environments" on research and analysis of the needs to design these favorable environments, but also in the proposal of innovative initiatives in that matter.
Tourism and Leisure in natural areas, as well as finding the benefits to health and well-being of older people involves contact with these areas. It gives you a new way of understanding the concept of enabling environment. It also means a real and possible opportunity for progress and employment in many of the European territory, especially in rural areas.
As recognized by the World Health Organization itself, the physical and social environments are crucial for older people to stay healthy, autonomous and independent for a longer time. Building favorable environments for older people, we can remove barriers and empower them to a physical and mental quality on ageing, promote social inclusion and active participation (framed by the concept of citizenship), in a scenario of high quality of life.
Already in 2007, the Institute of Leisure Studies at the University of Deusto noted in his study "The leisure experience and its relation to active ageing" (Goytia Fernández Prat & Lazarus, 2007), the paradox that "in a partnership so-called "leisure" and at one stage of the life cycle in which the time and specifically leisure, receives more importance, little work has been done on the role of leisure as a determinant of active ageing. Leisure and specifically the benefits that this entails for human beings, it potentially does become a very important element in the set of determinants that promote active ageing.
More recently, in 2012, the same Institute published "The contribution of leisure to successful ageing of older people in Bizkaia" (Jaime Cuenca & Monteagudo, 2012), which presents the leisure phenomenon beyond its mere connection with time, to show "how the most innovative conceptualizations of leisure in / for the XXI century don’t focus their interest nor in practice or in free time, but in the experiential value underlying the humanistic entertainment, one that has a proven impact on the quality of life of people and one of the necessary conditions for successful ageing. "
If the study on the influence of entertainment and tourism in active ageing is still recent, the analysis of the relationship between contact with nature and the health or welfare of the people is not exactly a discipline with ample scientific tradition.
Although it is something that is part of the collective imagination (who has not participated in the council "must breath clean air," or "the sun is the best vitamin". The truth is that science and in particular the health sciences have been guided, especially since the Second World War, to technological or pharmacological research, often forgetting the therapeutic effect that nature has on people.
However, in recent years the scientific community are putting their eyes on the "restorative" capacity of nature and the close relationship between health and the environment ("Greenspace design for health and well-being "(Shackell & Walter, 2012).
In a recent study of the European Office of the World Health Organization (OMS in Spanish and WHO for its acronym in English), entitled "Health and the Environment in the WHO European Region: Creating resilient communities and supportive environments" (World Health Organization (WHO) - Europe, 2013), all European countries are urged to promote sustainable healthcare systems from an environmental point of view, aiming to reduce the impact of treatments and health infrastructure in the environment but also betting on the use of the therapeutic properties of the same (greening health services, green spaces, etc..).
Linked to the above, the European Union grants fundamental importance to the future of the European economy and the tourism industry and within this sector it is of great relevance the so-called "Senior Tourism", since before the demographic changes are occurring globally. It is this group of population that has the time and the resources to develop this activity. Hence, a few months ago, the European Commission put forward the "Europe: best destinations for senior" initiative, in order to join efforts to make Europe the world's landmark destination for people over 55.
The fact of living and working in a cross-border region, Extremadura (Spain) and Alentejo (Portugal), with an extensive network of protected areas and unique conditions for tourism and leisure quality, although we have serious difficulties in reaching some markets and we also have a high unemployment, it prompted us to launch a new concept of Senior Tourism, which we have called "Active Senior Tourism" along with Catherine Hoffmann Holding Group. This concept aims to become a leader in the design of sustainable tourist destinations for Active Seniors throughout Europe.
In future articles we will continue reeling off this ambitious project, which cuts across health, environment, leisure and culture in the broad design of models for active ageing, specifically in the tourism sector.
17 diciembre 2013
J. García Collado – Experta Dcho. Medioambiental. Miembro EIP - AHA UE.
EIP – AHA
Goytia Prat, A., & Fernández Lázaro, Y. (2007). La experiencia de ocio y su relación con el envejecimiento activo. Instituto de Estudios del Ocio - Universidad de Deusto, Bilbao.
Jaime Cuenca, M. J., & Monteagudo, F. B. (2012). La Contribución del Ocio al envejecimiento satisfactorio de las personas mayores en Bizkaia. Instituto de Estudios de Ocio - Universidad de Deusto.
Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS) - Europa. (2013). Health and the Environment in the WHO European Region: Creating resilent communities and supportive environnments. OMS - Europa, Copenhagen - Denmark.
Shackell, A., & Walter, R. (2012). Greenspace design for health and well-being. NHS Forest. Edinburgh (UK): Forestry Commission.