Health Care and Wellness
Lebanon remains behind other countries covered in this study in the health and wellness of its older adults. This is attributed in part to various hurdles the country has faced in rebuilding its health care system after over a decade of civil war came to an end. The effort to improve medical care has been further challenged by the recent influx of Syrian refugees. To remedy this, Lebanon is working to improve the access and affordability of health care, with older adults among the biggest beneficiaries. While the country’s formal long-term care system remains nascent, it has drawn increasing attention from both NGOs and the public sector focused on enhancing professional capacity and creating high standards of care services.
In 2016, adults in Lebanon having reached age 60 could expect to live another 19.8 years, including 14.8 years in relatively good health. These levels of life expectancy and healthy life expectancy are above the Eastern Mediterranean regional averages, although still among the lowest among countries covered in this study.
Sources: World Bank; Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation
Alzheimer’s Association Lebanon
As in other countries, the number of older adults in Lebanon affected by dementia is growing as the country’s population ages. In the absence of a national strategy to tackle the dementia challenge, NGOs are leading the effort to help those affected by dementia, by reducing the stigma surrounding it and promoting early diagnosis. The Alzheimer’s Association Lebanon (AAL), founded in 2003, is one of the most active NGOs.
AAL organizes monthly meetings to provide counseling and lectures to those suffering from dementia, their support-givers, and their family members. AAL hosts capacity-building and outreach programs bringing together more than 800 social workers and family members at social development centers to share knowledge about caring for Alzheimer’s patients.
Working with the government on the ground in 2013 and 2014, the AAL partnered with the Ministry of Social Affairs to create an early diagnosis program, including screening drives, to diagnose the disease in nine regions. The initiative brought together doctors, occupational therapists, and social workers to assess 656 people age 65 and older. It found 107 cases of Alzheimer’s and related disorders, with 16 percent of participants previously undiagnosed.