Boomers Lag on Preventative Services that Could Help Improve Health

Keeping up with your health as you age can seem difficult. With work, family, bills to pay, and errands to run, you may think that focusing on your health isn’t as important in your middle-aged years, but a recent report shows it’s more important than ever.

Preventative Care in Middle Age

A report by the AARP Public Policy Institute found that most middle-aged adults significantly underuse preventative services that are recommended for their age group and it often leads to detrimental consequences.

Services like mammograms, pap tests, colorectal cancer screenings, and flu shots are suggested to adults during the middle-aged years in their life, but very few actually follow the suggestions and receive these preventative services that could potentially bring an otherwise unknown issue to light.

Currently, 44% of US adults between the ages of 50 and 64 have high blood pressure. In addition to that, 33% of middle-aged adults are obese. These risk factors for diseases such as heart disease and health incidents such as stroke pose serious problems that many people refuse to address. Rather than take part in preventative services and attempt to change their lifestyle for the better, most people simply continue on the path of least resistance and live their unhealthy lifestyle until it causes them more tangible problems.

Few States Keeping Up

Southern states have the highest percentage of risk factors like high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, and high cholesterol. The Northeast, on the other hand, has the highest percentage of preventative services used. Still, even these states didn’t meet the federal targets for usage.

States across the country have target numbers set for the preventative services offered and little to none have actually met the targets proposed by the federal government. Only 5 states met the past year’s colon cancer screening target and Utah is the only state that met the set target for smoking. None of the fifty states met the target for flu vaccinations.

According to the report, anywhere between 25,000 and 40,000 deaths could be prevented annually if middle-aged adults altered their lifestyle to include healthy activities and took advantage of these preventative services.

Healthy Living

Healthy lifestyle factors include quitting smoking, losing weight, eating healthful foods, and exercising regularly. Typically, it is the things that unhealthy people take pleasure in like lounging around, eating junk food, and smoking that cause them the most harm in the end.

Making simple lifestyle changes can be extremely effective at lengthening your lifespan and reducing your risk of disease. There’s no doubt that Texans enjoy delicious food, and you don’t have to give that up to be healthy, but moderation is key when it comes to foods that we know aren’t that great for our body. On top of that, getting out of the house and taking a walk, even just for 30 minutes, can make a big difference in your health, as well.

You can access the full report here or read more about how the state of Texas ranks in senior health nationwide.

Texas Ranks 39th in Senior Health

In a new report released by the United Health Foundation, Texas ranks 39th out of all 50 states in overall senior health. This ranking sheds some light on the issues that seniors in Texas currently face.

What Was Measured

Americans are living longer than ever before, but our health just isn’t keeping up. Seniors across the nation are experiencing health issues and needs that may not always be resolved or met. This may be due to economic status, location, lack of transportation, lack of information, or other reasons.

The United Health Foundation used 34 different factors to comprehensively analyze the senior health of each state. The 34 factors measured in the report are of 2 types — determinants and outcomes. Determinants are factors that can affect the future health of the population, whereas outcomes represent what has already occurred either through death or disease. For example, physical inactivity is a determinant while hip fractures are an outcome.

Physical inactivity, poverty, hip fractures, drug coverage, obesity, smoking, premature death rate, and hospital re-admission rates were just some of the factors measured in the report. Texas ranked at the bottom of the list, at number 39 of 50. However, like any state, Texas has its negatives and positives when it comes to senior health.

Texas – What’s the Problem?

Although everything is bigger in Texas, bigger might not be better in all cases. The newly released report found that more than 690,000 adults aged 65 and older in Texas are obese, ranking 33rd in the nation for senior obesity.

The measures in which Texas ranked worst, designated state “challenges”, include a low prevalence of able-bodied seniors and a high prevalence of both activity-limiting arthritis pain and food insecurity. These are three hugely important issues that affect the overall quality of life. The high prevalence of arthritis pain and food insecurity could both play a large role in the low prevalence of able-bodied seniors across the state.

The food that we eat plays a large role in our health, so if seniors are unable to access quality whole foods, their health will suffer. Eating the right foods can affect your arthritis, so it is crucial that those suffering from the disease have reliable food resources.

Community support for seniors was another area that Texas came in low, ranked 48 among 50 states. In addition,  Texas has one of the highest rates of seniors living in poverty at 11.3 percent of adults aged 65 and older. The high food insecurity in the state can be reflected back upon both of these issues. Community support programs for seniors, like those provided by the Area Agencies on Aging in Texas, can help provide resources that seniors would not have had access to otherwise, like Meals on Wheels, Nutritional Counseling, and other services that can help improve senior health and quality of life.

Simply participating in community programs and socially interacting with others can help seniors feel engaged with their surroundings. Benefits of social interaction in your senior years include lower blood pressure, a reduced risk of depression, and a potentially reduced risk of Alzheimer’s and heart disease.

It’s Not All Bad

Although Texas ranked 39th overall, the state still boasts some positives in terms of senior health. The report found that Texas’s strengths included a low prevalence of underweight seniors, a ready availability of home health care workers, and a high percentage of hospice care.

These measures show an indication of a shifting focus to the long term care industry, which is a positive thing for all seniors in Texas. Texas has a quickly growing senior population and the state is adjusting to keep up with this trend. Construction of long term care facilities that focus on memory care is growing in Texas, another indication that the state is catching up with the huge population of seniors.

How to Avoid the Health Crisis

One way to ensure you won’t be dealing with some of the issues facing seniors today is investing in Long Term Care Insurance. This insurance can help you cover the costs of long term care, should you ever need it. Long term care services are for those who have trouble with basic daily tasks, like dressing, bathing, and preparing food. For those Texans with activity-limiting arthritic pain, long term care may be necessary.

If you have a significant amount of assets saved, Long Term Care Insurance can help you protect those assets and provide you with the quality care you deserve. There are a number of great LTCI providers who have longevity in the industry and don’t have a large history of rate increases. Do your research and invest your money in insurance that will help you at the time when you need it most. You worked hard for your nest egg savings and should be able to enjoy retirement without worrying about how to pay for your next health care bill.

Cut Your Chances of Needing Long Term Care

Planning for long-term care is something we should all be doing, whether you are in your 20s or your 60s, and it entails more than just saving money. While putting money towards retirement and your future health care is a great thing to do as soon as you possibly can, there are other ways to help plan for long term care and possibly even reduce your risk of needing care at all.

Make Health a Priority

Focusing on your health is important to helping reduce your risk of issues that often contribute to the need for long-term care. Chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and other health incidents are some of the most common reasons that people need long-term care and putting effort towards your health can significantly cut the chances that you will develop those diseases later down the road.

When it comes to your health, most people know that healthy eating and dieting play key roles. Unfortunately, most people don’t actually follow the general recommendations for eating healthily and getting regular exercise, which is a large component of why chronic diseases continue to increase in prevalence across the United States.

High cholesterol, smoking, high blood pressure, and obesity are running rampant throughout the United States, and to help control these risk factors for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, consider following these steps to help you put more focus on your health and give your future self an advantage.

Steps to Better Health

1)    Eat more fresh foods – Recent studies have found that processed foods make up the large majority of the American diet. These foods are filled with added sugars, unhealthy fats, and all sorts of chemicals that don’t benefit the body in any way. Rather than choose foods that are in boxes or bags, opt for fresh foods instead. Incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet, as those foods contain high amounts of antioxidants which help combat free radicals, the source of many diseases.

2)    Exercise regularly – Exercise doesn’t have to be a tough regimen at the gym, but rather it can involve some low-impact activities like walking daily or swimming a few times a week. Strength training is great for the body, too, so try to focus on both that and cardio. Exercise not only strengthens your body, but your mind, too, giving you better protection against the risk of mental diseases.

3)    Socialize – This is especially important for retirees, many of whom spend most of their time being idle at home. Not only is sitting for long periods of time detrimental to our health but so is going without mental stimulation. Join a local organization like a book club, a volunteer group, or a meet-up that aligns with your interests. It will help keep your brain sharp and your mood up.

Adding these important components of health into your lifestyle will help you improve your mental, physical, and emotional health and set you up for better health as you age. To learn more about ways that can help you improve your long term health, read this post.