Seventy percent of physical decline associated with aging is due to unhealthy lifestyles, and in New Jersey, these poor lifestyle choices are directly related to the overall risk and burden of chronic diseases. In 2000, almost 36 percent of the New Jersey 60+ non-institutionalized population reported a disability, and while many seniors were aware of healthy behaviors, more than half said they were not always able to practice them, either because of lack of motivation, money, time, or access. For this reason, the Department of Health and Senior Services in New Jersey organized a blueprint to encourage community leaders to promote the maintenance of good health to the rapidly growing aging population.
This report was created to provide demographic details for aging adults in New Jersey and information on their health status, information on the benefits of healthy lifestyles that can improve the quality of life for aging adults, and examples of cost-effective programs that can be implemented to support healthy behaviors. People who engage in healthy behaviors through physical activity, proper nutrition, and abstaining from alcohol and tobacco products show substantially reduced risk of chronic disease and have half the rate of disability compared with those who do not practice these healthy behaviors.
Other report highlights include:
- In New Jersey, around 63 percent of the 60+ population were considered overweight, and an approximately 33 percent reported engaging in no physical activity.
- An estimated 69 percent of the aging population in New Jersey reported eating less than five fruits and vegetables a day.
- Over half of aging New Jersey residents reported having high blood pressure, approximately 42 percent did not get a flu shot, an estimated 34 percent of women did not receive a breast exam and mammogram, and about 24 percent of men did not have a prostate screening.
How to Use
This blueprint is a great resource for local officials in the New Jersey area, as well as other local officials and planners interested in planning, implementing, and evaluating health promotion initiatives. The examples of healthy-living promotional programs can serve as a guide for creating similar programs in any community, and the information provided on the importance of healthy living for aging adults can serve as a starting point for any community officials interested in disseminating knowledge on this topic.
View full report: Blueprint for Healthy Aging in New Jersey (PDF – 2.2 MB)