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Keeping the Aging Population Healthy

Overview

By 2030, the population of older Americans over the age of 65 will double. This anticipated growth in the aging population will result in an expected 25 percent rise in health care costs. Promoting healthy lifestyles and broadening the use of clinical preventative services are critical to preserving the health of older adults and reducing healthcare costs and long-term care needs. This Healthy States Initiative, created in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Center for Disease Control and Prevention, is designed to help state leaders make informed decisions on public health issues regarding older adults. The initiative brings together Center for Disease Control officials, state legislators, and state department health officials to share information and innovative solutions for issues affecting the public health. The report also provides a list of state policy examples that promote healthy aging practices.

Key Points

This report offers guidance and recommendations for state legislators looking to preserve the health of their older adult populations by facilitating healthy lifestyles, broadening the use of preventative services, and supporting efforts to allow their older residents to age in place. To broaden the use of preventative services, state legislators can establish statewide chronic disease self-management programs, establish incentives for third-party insurance coverage of preventative services such as screenings and immunizations, and support funding to increase training for health care professionals on prevention-focused geriatric care. Provide incentives for local planning boards to incorporate design features that facilitate livable communities like availability of alternative modes of transportation, increasing opportunities for safe physical activity, and promoting pedestrian safety.

Other report highlights include:

  1. In 2002, the Michigan Department of Community Health’s Injury and Violence Prevention Section received a grant from the CDC to establish fall prevention clinics that council and educate older adults and their families, provide assessments of possible home hazards, and offer tai chi classes to improve balance and increase muscle strength. Evaluations of these prevention clinics show a reduction in falls among older adults by 34 percent.
  2. Florida’s Department of Elder Affairs and its Area Agencies on Aging implemented the Health and Wellness Promotion Program to provide older adults with health education programs and preventative screenings. The program has been successful in preventing institutionalization by educating older adults on age-related topics such as cardiovascular health, medication management, osteoporosis, and nutrition and physical fitness.

How to Use

State legislators, local officials and community leaders can use this report as a guide in developing strategies to promote healthy aging. The list of recommendations for broadening the use of preventative services, promoting healthy aging, and supporting aging in place can be used to create a healthy aging policy that may help to reduce health care costs and preserve the health of older adults. Policymakers should also utilize the information resources outlined at the beginning of the report when developing a comprehensive healthy aging policy.

View full report: Keeping the Aging Population Healthy (PDF – 582 KB)

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