The senior population, those 65 and older, is predicted to double in the next twenty years, making the health of older adults an increasing important priority in the United States. Due to technological advances in medicine and preventative care, many opportunities now exist to help overcome some of the challenges of an aging society. The State of Aging and Health in America 2013 report produced by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention highlights these opportunities and examines key health threats affecting older adults. It provides a snapshot of how the U.S. is promoting prevention, reducing behaviors that contribute to premature death and disability, and improving the health and well-being of older adults.
The State of Aging and Health in America 2013 focuses on several areas of concern that may significantly improve the quality of life for older adults, that is, if they are effectively addressed by key groups at the national, state, and local levels. Several calls-to-action are presented in this report that are intended to encourage communities to take specific steps to improve the health of older adults. These include:
- Developing a new Healthy Brain Initiative Road Map.
- Addressing lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) aging and health issues.
- Using data on physically unhealthy days to guide interventions.
- Addressing mental distress among older adults.
Another concern addressed in this report is mobility. There are critical gaps in the assessment and measurement of mobility among older adults, yet mobility is fundamental to the health and well-being of older adults. This report highlights the innovative approaches taken by two supportive communities that are working to better understand these gaps and improve mobility for their older residents – the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Area Agency on Aging Lifelong Communities initiative and Hendersonville, North Carolina’s Walk Wise, Drive Smart program.
- Lifelong Communities initiative: The Atlanta Regional Commission’s (ARC) Area Agency on Aging established this initiative to illustrate the importance of collaboration in supporting healthy aging. As part of the initiative, ARC works with a variety of partners to offer evidence-based programs that help older adults maintain or improve their ability to walk safely and independently. For more information on the Lifelong Communities initiative please see page 39 of the report.
- Walk Wise, Drive Smart program: The goal of this program is to make neighborhoods in Hendersonville, NC and surrounding areas more pedestrian-friendly for older adults while improving mobility and active living among all residents. An innovative feature of the Walk Wise, Drive Smart program is that it provides incentives such as coupons for prize drawings to courteous drivers who yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. To find out more about this program in Hendersonville visit walk-wise.org.
How to Use
The older adult population will soon swell to unprecedented levels, dramatically impacting all aspects of our society, particularly health care and community development. To ensure individuals are informed, aware, and educated, this report provides a snapshot of the nation’s progress toward improving the health of older adults and presents calls-to-action for communities across the nation. Community leaders and local officials can use this report to assess and compare the health and well-being of older adults in their communities and determine any gaps that may exist.