Home > News > Public Health Updated 01 October 2013 Zuma urges elderly to live healthily President Jacob Zuma has urged the elderly to take care of their health and to contribute to the development of the country. 0 Shutterstock Related SA elderly discard pills for condoms Elderly South Africans to be honoured President Jacob Zuma says the government is concerned about the health of the elderly.Addressing a lunch at the start of week-long celebrations honouring the elderly, he said Statistics South Africa had established that 55% of South Africa's older persons over the age of 70 struggled with chronic diseases and 35% had some kind of disability. As people get older, chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes tend to increase. Zuma reminded the elderly who received old age pensions that they also qualified for equipment if they developed a disability. Government was improving the primary health care programme to include home and community based services to older people who were unable to live independently. Innovative managementHe pointed out that health care workers visit the elderly at home and other people with chronic illnesses as part of government's caring primary health care programme. "We're doing all this because the elderly must be healthy and continue to contribute to the development of the country and to society in general."We're pleased that our innovative management of HIV/Aids is reducing the burden on older people."In the past few years, older people had to fulfil the role of carers to family members suffering from HIV-related illnesses and to look after orphans resulting from this pandemic", Zuma said.He pointed out that fortunately South Africa now had the biggest HIV treatment programme in the world and the numbers of people dying from Aids and the number of elderly that had to take care of orphaned and vulnerable children was decreasing. Zuma said most of the achievements of his government were in reducing extreme levels of income poverty, which could be ascribed to the comprehensive social protection programme. It included social grants such as the old age pension scheme, as well as access to free education and primary health care for the poorest and the provision of free basic services to indigent members of the society. GrandchildrenZuma said there were 16 million people currently receiving social grants. Of this number, over 11 million was children, three million senior citizens who receive the old age grant and a further 531 received the war veterans’ grant. He said the government had increased life expectancy by an average of five years due to successful government health and anti-poverty programmes. Life expectancy at birth in 2011 was estimated at 54 for males and 59 for females. The increase in life expectancy was expected to continue and the number of people over the age of 60 will increase in the next coming years. Government will continue to improve the health of older persons, but urged the elderly to play their own role as well to improve their health. "We urge you to follow a healthy lifestyle by becoming physically active such as taking a daily walk and refrain from drinking alcohol or smoking and taking medicine every day at the right time,” Zuma said.Key milestones during the week ahead will be the celebration of the International Day of Older Persons on 1 October, which was designated by the United Nations in 1990. The second important day is Grandparents Day which is celebrated on 6 October. This year's theme as designated by the United Nations is "The future we want, what older persons say''. NEXT ON HEALTH24X Smoking e-cigarettes could significantly slow healing of wounds 2018-10-21 07:00 More: NewsPublic Health advertisement Read Health24’s Comments Policy Comment on this story 0 comments Comments have been closed for this article. Logout Comment 0 characters remaining Share on Facebook Loading comments... Other news Lifestyle Smoking e-cigarettes could significantly slow healing of wounds Lifestyle This is exactly how to escape a botched bench press Lifestyle 6 legit health benefits of quinoa News Shocking prevalence of pregnancies, HIV infections in 9-19 year olds in Limpopo village Lifestyle Is it safe to sleep with your contact lenses in? We found out Lifestyle How does circumcision really affect your sex life? Here are the facts From our sponsors Dementia and Incontinence: what you need to know Tell-tale signs you need a mattress upgrade Keen to win a R2 000 voucher? Good health begins in your gastrointestinal tract Live healthier Gut health » Can't lose weight? Blame it on your gut Our nutrition experts weigh in on why gut health is such an important factor in weight loss, on World Obesity Day. Sleep better » Yes, there is such a thing as too much sleep A new study confirms that too little sleep can impair your brain, but interestingly, too much sleep is also a problem.