Thursday, November 23, 2017
 










 

HEALTHY AGING


While we cannot stop the passage of time, we can make healthy choices that shape how we age. Exercising, eating well, regular health screenings and immunizations provide the foundations of staying healthy throughout life. Adopting these healthy habits and stopping negative habits, such as smoking, can have a positive effect on quality of life as a person ages.

We can all take steps to prevent the onset of disease—and these steps are especially important as we grow older. The National Prevention Strategy (http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/initiatives/prevention/strategy/) is a comprehensive plan that provides a framework and actionable steps to help increase the number of Americans who are healthy at every stage of life. For example, the National Prevention Strategy includes steps that the federal government, state and local governments, business partners, and individuals can take to encourage tobacco-free living. Primary prevention in late life also includes reducing risks for preventable injuries such as falls—a significant cause of disability affecting nearly one in three older adults a year.

As a result of the Affordable Care Act, Medicare now provides coverage without cost-sharing for many preventive screenings to help older Americans stay healthy. By enhancing health insurance coverage among people under 65, the Affordable Care Act will help future retirees be healthier by ensuring access to preventive care and treatment for chronic conditions.

Creating and supporting age-friendly communities will allow older adults to age in place in their communities. Bringing together robust partnerships among health care services, aging services, and housing can help support older Americans thrive in their communities as they age.

New York Healthy Aging


Chronic conditions are singled out as the major cause of illness, disability, and death in the United States.  It is estimated that the cost of chronic conditions will reach $864 billion by 2040, with chronic conditions among older adults being more costly, disabling, and difficult to treat – and also, in many cases, preventable.   

By 2020, NYSOFA projects (based on Woods & Poole Economics, Population Projections, 2014) people aged 60 and over with functional impairments will grow by a rate of 11.2 percent, and by over 20% by 2025, comparable to the rate of the overall population growth, with 81%living in the community, and 19% (based on New York’s current long-term care structure) living in nursing homes or other group care facilities.

U.S. Population: Disability

Age Group

% of Group with All Types of Disabilities

5-20

4%

21-64

9%

65 and over

35%

 


In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities states that “compelling evidence indicates that race and ethnicity correlate with persistent, and often increasing, health disparities among the U. S. populations.” In addition to race and ethnicity, the CDC found that health disparities also occur among various segments of the population by gender, education or income, disability, geographic location, or sexual orientation. Older adults who have health problems and chronic diseases and have lower incomes face very difficult choices in terms of affording their care and financing other important household-related expenses.

The projected increase in the number of older adults in New York State will have a significant impact on population health and the state’s ability to deliver and pay for long-term services and supports. Recent survey findings ("Facts About 50 Plus in NY -- Health of Older Adults in New York” Gibson et al. 2003) of individuals aged 50 years and over indicate that approximately one in four (27 percent) older adults have sufficient resources to pay for long-term care expenses totaling $150,000 over the course of a three-year period, leaving almost three in four who could not do so. The financial burden of health care services is complicated further by the fact that many of New York’s older residents live in rural areas where health and long-term care services, and other community-based services are less accessible, may not exist, are more costly to provide, and where availability of specialized services is less likely.

Health promotion strategies directed toward all age groups represent another important means to stem rising health care costs since the behaviors that place people at-risk of disease often begin earlier in life.  Of particular concern is the rise in obesity observed among children and young adults and its future, as well as current impact.  Communities designed to promote exercise and healthy lifestyles have a benefit on the general population, while age-appropriate programs that promote physical activity and balance are beneficial to the overall health of older adults.  Additionally, helping all individuals develop accurate expectations for aging is essential, in view of the fact that those who perceive aging as an inevitable decline in well-being are least likely to participate in physical activity.  Individuals with a more informed view tend to engage in activities that promote their physical well-being throughout their lives.  Lastly, health strategies must couple effective treatments and best practices with opportunities for prevention and reduction in health disparities. 

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