| Tue, Jun 04, 2013 @ 09:00 AM

Healthy Aging – A Call to Action

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

healthy aging tipsHealthy aging can mean more than just going to the doctor or eating the right foods. Helping America’s seniors—adults aged 65 and over—live healthier lives is an important public health issue. You can find out more about the health issues that affect you and others your age in the United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings® Senior Report.

The Big Picture

Are you an adult aged 65 or older? If so, you’re in good company. In the next 15 years, America’s senior population will grow by 53%1. This is just one of the things you’ll learn from the 2013 United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings® Senior Report. This report gives you the “big picture” of senior health at state and national levels. It takes a well-rounded look at four main groups of senior health topics:

  • Behaviors – What are seniors doing to live healthier lives? Are there areas for improvement?
  • Clinical Care – Do seniors have access to the health care services they need?
  • Community & Environment – How are communities helping their seniors stay healthy?
  • Policy – How do the actions of healthcare and other public and private systems affect senior health?

Challenges and Opportunities

Looking at the issues above led to a mixed picture of senior health from state-to-state. With challenges, however, come opportunities for change on a personal level and within your own community. Here are some examples:

  • Challenge: Obesity – Being overweight is a health challenge in itself. And it can lead to the risk for other health problems and illnesses.

Opportunity: Start a “Healthy Recipe Exchange” to encourage people to eat healthier. Email people healthy recipes or organize a healthy cooking event in your community.

  • Challenge: Physical Inactivity – Part of aging is a decrease in muscle mass and strength. That’s why it’s so important that older adults remain active.

Opportunity: Get a group of people together to take a daily walk in your area. To switch it up, try outdoor paths, indoor tracks and/or “mall walking.”

  • Challenge: Flu Vaccine – The report warns that it’s especially important for people aged 65 years and over to get a flu shot. Not only does this group have a better chance of getting the flu, but they also tend to have worse flu symptoms when they do.

Opportunity: Become a “Vaccine Buddy.” Remind your friends to get their flu shots, or offer to drive people from your church or senior center to get theirs. Remember: Medicare covers the cost of one flu shot per year.

  • Challenge: Food Insecurity – The report shows that on average, 13.6% of U.S. adults aged 60 and older have issues with access to and/or availability of food.

Opportunity: Grab a group of friends and volunteer at your local food bank once a week. Start a food donation box at your local senior center.

  • Challenge: Poverty – As the report reminds us, poverty can affect a person’s health, including access to health care, healthy foods, and choices for physical activity.

Opportunity: Start a support group to help people get access to the resources and financial help they need.

  • Challenge: Low-Care Nursing Home Residents – This challenge focuses on people who may not need the full services of a nursing home and may be able to live on their own with the proper support.

Opportunity: Volunteer with your local “Meals on Wheels” or adult day care program. Help caregivers in your community get the support they may need to help their loved ones.

Be a Force for Change

The America’s Health Rankings® Senior Report gives you a good starting point to spot health challenges in communities across the country. This is an important first step to helping improve the health of America’s seniors. If you’re looking to make a difference—or if you just want to keep up with the health issues that matter to you—here are some tips to get started:

  • Go online. Visit the America’s Health Rankings® website and get tools and resources to empower yourself to become an advocate for public health improvement.
  • Get social. Visit the America’s Health Rankings®  Facebook page and Twitter feed. Share stories about senior health programs that have made a difference in your community.
  • Learn more. Knowledge is power. Get the report via e-book download. Check out the helpful interactive maps to see how health trends are changing over time.

For more information, contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048. If you have questions about Medicare Made Clear, call 1-877-619-5582, TTY 711, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week.

Resources

America’s Health Rankings®Senior ReportEmpower yourself to help seniors in your community.

Medicare Made Clear newsletter: Sign up and keep current with Medicare news and information.

Medicare.gov Newsroom Center: The latest news about Medicare and senior health.

1 America’s Health Rankings® Senior Report, United Health Foundation, 2013. www.americashealthrankings.org/senior 

 

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