Alabama ranks second in the U.S. for being overweight. This leads to health complications and costs as the percentage of older Alabamans continues to increase. In preparation for this aging demographic, the Alabama Department of Senior Services created and submitted its state age plan per the requirements of the Older Americans Act.
Alabama has four major trends that make it unique in its age-related services: obesity, education, an increasing number of widows with limited job opportunities, and a high percentage of the poor unable to afford burgeoning care-related services. Each of these trends has implications on education, health, prevention, and economic activities.
Other plan highlights include:
- Along with the obesity challenge, Alabama faces an education gap that also leads to a poverty gap. Thirty-four percent of Alabamians 65 and older did not finish high school.
- The number one killer of Alabamians is heart disease. Heart disease is linked to obesity. Other major health issues include diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer (pages 18-19).
- Long-term care services have increased dramatically over the last several years. According to the report, a major challenge facing Alabama is the affordability of those services for the poor.
- The majority of older Alabamians will be women.
The consequences of a poor diet combined with an older populace leads to increased health care expenses. Unfortunately, a significant percentage of the aging demographic of Alabama is also uneducated. Both are preventable. Alabama’s greatest challenge is not just how to care for an older demographic but also, how to change values in order to alter the lifestyle and health choices of subsequent generations.
How to Use
Local governments also struggling with an obesity epidemic would do well to consider the link in this plan between health, education, and the limitation of job opportunities based on preventable factors. In addition, those areas that are projected to have a large number of old widows should consider educational or training opportunities to reduce the risk of having them slip into poverty.
View full report: Alabama State Plan on Aging – 2011-2012 (PDF – 1 MB)