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‘We want to change that mindset’

Age Concern’s Health Checks Initiative: from left, Lori Dunstan, chairwoman of the Chubb Foundation, Claudette Fleming, Age Concern executive director, and Minister of Health Kim Wilson

The first of three health screening events to be run by charity Age Concern this year was held yesterday.

The event took place at insurance firm Chubb on Woodbourne Avenue in Hamilton and more than 60 people over the age of 50 attended.

Claudette Fleming, executive director of Age Concern, said: “One of the key outcomes in 2017 of the Chubb Health Checks was that it attracted the highest percentage of uninsured seniors, 17 per cent, of all other health checks conducted in 2017, demonstrating the value of the event in providing access to these most in need of support and the value of the location.”

Dr Fleming explained that the initiative was designed to address access to screening services for those over 50 who have chronic conditions diagnosed or at high risk.

She said a total of 250 people attended the three events last year and added that 63 per cent were women, 37 per cent men, 81 per cent black, 14 per cent white and 5 per cent identified as “other”.

Dr Fleming said: “For the most part, respondents presented as being very proactive about the maintenance of their health, despite the fact that most respondents also reported being on modest to low incomes.” She added that more than half said they were in good health but 45 per cent said they had high cholesterol and 68 per cent had high blood pressure diagnosed.

But she added that 60 per cent of those who had chronic conditions diagnosed said they had not been given lifestyle change recommendations to deal with their conditions in the past year.

Dr Fleming said the charity was “deeply concerned about these findings”, and quoted the World Health Organisation’s 2013 brief on high blood pressure, which stressed the importance of awareness and early detection.

She said some people had conditions diagnosed up to a decade ago but believed that nothing could be done about them.

Dr Fleming added: “We want to change that mindset. We want to let people know that you can become more involved in your healthcare by looking at your diet, by doing more exercise and so on.

“I believe this is mostly generational but we are going to begin to see a shift as we get more awareness and more people on board with the message of healthy ageing.”

Dr Fleming said two more health check events would be held this year in the east and west of the island.

Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, said the checks were “an important addition to the health screening opportunities offered in Bermuda for the public”.

She added it was also a good addition to the ministry’s “healthy people in healthy communities” plan.

Ms Wilson said: “Improvements in lifestyles, technology, medicine and education have all resulted in increased longevity.”

But she added that this also meant they face more illnesses and disabilities, which leads to a higher demand for healthcare.

Ms Wilson said: “Seniors also face prevalent conditions found in the general population as well, requiring community focus on asthma, dental health and weight management.”

“Therefore it is extremely useful that Age Concern last year began their Health Checks initiative providing free screenings in many of these areas.”

Lori Dunstan, Chubb Charitable Foundation — Bermuda chairwoman, said Chubb was happy to take part after the success of last year’s initiative “and seeing first-hand the impact of free health screenings”.