Understanding the Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) And How They Impact Aging

Liz Miller

Understanding the Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) And How They Impact Aging

The Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) are aspects of our life that affect our health. These aspects include a broad range of personal, social, economic, and environmental factors. It is not just up to healthcare organizations to address the SDoH but also each individual. Each person can take personal steps towards a healthier lifestyle.

Many factors that affect one’s health are not based on genetics. Global healthcare organizations and institutions are looking to address the impacts of these external factors on health. More and more individuals are also looking to see how they can help improve their SDoH’s to live healthier lives.

Knowing about the SDoH is helpful to avoid health pitfalls. The social determinants of health, according to the World Health Organization, are the “conditions in which people are born, grow, work and age.” They include many non-medical factors that influence health outcomes.

What are the 5 primary Social Determinants of Health?

The social determinants of health are often lumped into five broad categories. These categories look at the conditions in the environments where people are born, live, work, learn, and frequent. It evaluates them for stability, ease of access, quality, and opportunity. These categories include: 

  1. Economic Stability - This looks at how easy it is for a person to afford their basic needs of food, shelter, and minimal quality of life. Those who are unsure of where their next meal is coming from or if they can afford a place to sleep, can’t focus on being choosey about eating healthy or taking care of themselves.
  2. Education Access - Education offers a number of opportunities.  Quality education provides job opportunities. It often helps one to have access to local resources in one’s community. A lack of educational resources or poor quality education can impact a person’s opportunities for growth throughout their life. This then impacts their health and wellness.
  3. Healthcare Access - Healthcare plans are often private with limited to no resources for those without healthcare in the US. A lack of access to healthcare or waiting for subsidized or free care can mean that treatable conditions can become life-threatening. Sometimes people fail to seek care, take medicine, and other aspects of health because they can’t afford it.
  4. Neighborhood Environment - Having a safe environment that fosters community and growth helps one to feel secure. When neighborhoods or work environments are dangerous, toxic, or unfit it can add additional stress.  That negativity can impact a person’s overall health.
  5. Social and Community - Social connection is an essential part of health and well-being. People who have strong support from communities of friends, families, and groups with shared interests are often healthier. They do not suffer some of the negative effects of social isolation and loneliness that can be detrimental to one’s health.

The World Health Organization’s research shows that social determinants of health can be more important than health care or lifestyle choices. According to WHO numerous studies suggest that SDoH accounts for between 30-55% of health outcomes. 

If social determinants of health are so important what is being done to address these needs?

How GetSetUp Addresses the Social Determinants of Health

GetSetUp is working hard to improve aging for older adults around the world. Part of how they do this is by addressing the social determinants of health for their learners and through partnerships. 

GetSetUp’s Impact

  • Economic Stability - We counter ageism and offer reskilling classes to help create economic stability for those over 55.  Not only is over half of our staff over 50, we also offer classes to build older adults' confidence. Tech classes and job skills classes assure older adults can find local opportunities or sell their skills and services using modern technology.
  • Education Access and Quality - We provide a one-stop-shop for older adults to learn skills in bite-size classes taught by peer experts. Our customized high-quality education for older adults by their peers allows them to gain the confidence they need to thrive. Plus learners go on to create and share their skills with others creating great access.
  • Health Care Access and Quality - We offer classes on fitness, health, and well-being. Our classes help learners understand how to manage aging ailments such as diabetes, stroke, and heart conditions. Learners have started eating healthier and lost weight thanks to classes on GetSetUp. Other learners cite improved balance, improved mood, and overall improved health.
  • Neighborhood and Built Environment- We offer a safe virtual community. Our community is accessible to those with mobility issues, in rural locations, or who have safety concerns. We are building a global neighborhood through our virtual community. Our learners can explore the world through travel classes with global peers. This expands their environment from the 4 walls of their rooms.
  • Social and Community Context - We provide a positive social environment for our learners to grow and develop with peers. Many friends have reconnected on our site after years, and learners are making new friends through our platform. As people age generally their social circles tend to decrease. This can lead to social isolation and overall health decline. We are helping to prevent that by connecting like-minded individuals through positive learning.

Join the community! See how you and your organization can address local social determinants of health by partnering with GetSetUp.

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Understanding the Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) And How They Impact Aging
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