Arnaldo Sampaio 2016 AWARD for GERIA Research Team
THE GERIA PROJECT
The age of the European population is rising and the percentage of adults aged 65 years and older is projected to increase from 16% in 2000 to 20% in 2020. It has been estimated that older persons spend about 19-20 hours per day indoors. Therefore, the study of indoor air quality (IAQ) in the elderly is becoming an important issue to be addressed by clinical research.
In fact, older persons may be particularly at risk of detrimental effects from pollutants, even at low concentrations, due to their common and multiple underlying chronic diseases that increases their susceptibility. Current ventilation standards are not based on the prevention of health problems, but instead on the prevention of discomfort problems. Based on this and in the fact that the existent studies on the relationship between indoor air quality (IAQ) and older person’s health and quality of life in elderly care centers (ECCs) are very scarce, the authors of this Project Team consider that is time to move towards investigating this apparent gap in knowledge.
For elderly residents in care centers IAQ is a special concern and a critical contributor to their health and quality of life. Aging adults, particularly the elderly, can have weakened immune systems and age-related health problems which make them more vulnerable to health complications associated with indoor air pollution. This is particularly true for some groups at risk with chronic diseases as respiratory infections, cardiovascular illness and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The topic of World Health Day in 2012 is Ageing and health with the theme "Good health adds life to years". Also, this year is the ‘European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations’. Accordingly, this project is suitable to integrate these initiatives and to ensure greater recognition of what older people bring to society and create more supportive conditions for them. To our knowledge, this is the first study in Portugal to assess effects of indoor air contaminants on health status and quality of life in older persons living in ECCs.