The 2012 Edition of America's Health Rankings revealed that Americans are now living longer lives, but with increased rates of preventable chronic disease. If our nation's seniors are unhealthy, can we be healthy as a society?
Today, 1 in 8 Americans are aged 65 or older. By the year 2050, this age group is projected to more than double in size, from 40.3 million to 88.5 million. The increasing number of older adults combined with increasing rates of obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases are on track to overwhelm our health care system.
In no other aspect is this more true than the cost of health care. Adults aged 65 and older spend nearly twice as much as 45 to 64 year olds on health care each year. They spend 3 to 5 times more than all adults younger than 65.3.
The health needs of older adults are not only more costly but also differ greatly from the younger population. Nearly 80 percent of seniors have already been diagnosed with at least 1 chronic condition and half have been diagnosed with at least 2.4. The increased burden of chronic disease among older adults affects not only the number of visits to a health professional and the number of medications they take, but also their overall well-being.
As seniors age, challenges such as limited mobility, social isolation, and the need for long-term care become increasingly common. These issues extend far beyond the health care system because they encompass the ability of communities to accommodate limited-mobility residents and the ability of families and communities to provide long-term care needs.
This report includes the following commentaries:
- "Senior Report -- Working Together to Care for an Aging Nation", authored by Jennie Chin Hansen, RN, MSN, FAAN, CEO of the American Geriatrics Society, who discusses the importance of geriatricians and geriatric specialists in treating the multiple and complex medical needs of older adults.
- "Preparing for the Future as Millions of Baby Boomers Continue to Age", authored by Gail Gibson Hunt, President and CEO, National Alliance for Caregiving, who discusses the important role of family caregivers in caring for seniors.
- "Rx for Health -- Invest in America's Senior Centers to Promote Health and Prevent Disease",authored by James Firman, Ed.D., President and CEO, and Richard Birkel, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, National Council on Aging, who recommend further investing in the capacity of senior centers to more fully leverage the role they play in improving the health of seniors.
- "Senior Hunger: A National Problem, A Local Problem", authored by Enid A. Borden, Founder, President and CEO, and Margaret B. Ingraham, Executive Vice President, National Foundation to End Senior Hunger, who highlight the growing issue of senior hunger.
- "The Environment of Care: A Community's Journey to Become America's Healthiest Hometown", authored by Elliot Sussman, MD, MBA, Chairman, and Joseph Hildner, MD, Chief Medical Of?cer, The Villages Health, and Stephen Klasko, MD, MBA, CEO, USF Health and Dean, Morsani College of Medicine, who discuss health care transformation in The Villages, a retirement community in central Florida.