Health risks - what role does age play?

Every fifth person in Germany belongs to Generation 65+. No matter whether they are sprightly, a bit rusty, still working or in need of care, a glance to the future shows that there will be more and more senior citizens in the years to come. The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is focusing on Generation 65+ as consumers at the 19th BfR Consumer Protection Forum, which is set to take place from 13 to 14 June 2019 at the BfR location in Marienfelde. "There is no such thing as the standard consumer," says BfR President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel. "We need to know what peculiarities we have to consider when assessing and communicating health risks to older people. For example in the context of avoiding food infections, which can have particularly severe effects among the elderly". While welcoming the participants to the event, Dr. Hermann Onko Aeikens, Secretary of State at the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture said: "An enjoyable, healthy diet in combination with regular exercise, cognitive and social activity plays a pivotal role in a good, healthy ageing process. That is why the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture has brought into being the 'Nutrition Initiative for Seniors' and is supporting this project jointly with the Federal Association of Senior Citizens' Organisations to the tune of around 1.65 million euros".

The number of elderly people in Germany is on the rise. This means that more and more focus is being placed on age-related topics. But in which areas are age-related changes particularly conspicuous? At the BfR Consumer Protection Forum, experts will be taking a closer look at the scientific perspectives of ageing. In addition to demographic aspects, this also involves physical changes and the risks infections pose to older people. Nutrition can also represent a health risk for the elderly whose special needs have to be given due consideration. Feelings of hunger and thirst diminish with advancing age and the consequences of a one-sided selection of foods become more apparent. Risk perception also changes with age. In order to be able to communicate effectively to this target group, it is important for to know what risks older people are aware of in the first place. Further Generation 65+ topics that the BfR has already looked into include food supplements, aluminium dishes and eating in communal catering facilities, as well as the risks of poisoning among seniors.

The goal of the BfR Consumer Protection Forum is to foster dialogue with the various stakeholders at regional and national government level, as well as representatives of the scientific community, the media and consumer protection institutions and jointly structure the programme. For this reason, social groups that deal with Generation 65+ on a daily basis will be given the floor on the second day of the event.

One of the projects to be presented will be the "Im Alter IN FORM" (Ageing in Good Shape) initiative, which was launched in 2008 by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) and Federal Ministry of Health (BMG). It supports measures and activities designed to promote health - in particular a balanced diet, sufficient exercise and engagement in an active social life - and integrate them even more into work with the elderly on a community level. In addition to this, participants can experience what a week in the life of Generation 65+ can look like and how elderly people can acquire information through the media, for example. The State Office of Criminal Investigations will then raise awareness of fraud attempts which often target senior citizens, aiming to illegally obtain money from them.

The subsequent podium discussion will address the question whether senior citizens are sufficiently protected as consumers.

More information at:

About the BfR

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientifically independent institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) in Germany. It advises the Federal Government and Federal Laender on questions of food, chemical and product safety. The BfR conducts its own research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.

This text version is a translation of the original German text which is the only legally binding version.

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