The Definition of Health

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In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) describes health as a “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Jason Karlawish, principal investigator of the UPenn PRC Cognitive Aging Communication Project and the Healthy Brain Research Network, and co-director of the Penn Memory Center (PMC), teamed up with PMC scholar Cara Kiernan Fallon to author editorials for the American Journal of Public Health and STAT supporting the updates to the definition of health. The pair argue that as medical science prolongs our lifespan and improves the quality of life while living with disease, the definition should expand to include noncommunicable disease and special considerations for the elderly.