Study Breaks Down Aging Population’s Health Issues By Community
When it comes to health and aging, where you live matters.
The study, conducted for the Tufts Health Plan Foundation, looked at nearly 100 factors that impact healthy aging for each city and town in the state as well as 16 Boston neighborhoods.
It looked at everything from incidence of chronic disease, obesity rates, nutrition, access to health care, and hospital and nursing home stays to crime rates and walking opportunities within the community.
Among the findings: Weymouth and Quincy had the region’s highest percentages of residents age 60 and over with four or more chronic health problems, at 60.9 percent and 60.7 percent, respectively. The statewide average is 58.6 percent.
In Quincy, the study found, older residents had rates higher than the state average for stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hypertension, heart attacks, congestive heart failure, colon cancer, lung cancer and osteoporosis.
Cohasset and Norwell had the lowest percentages of older residents with four or more chronic health problems, at 50 and 52.1 percent, respectively. Nearly 10 percent of Cohasset residents in the age group reported no chronic medical problems.
The study was intended to generate discussion among residents and officials about how to improve the health of their communities, said Ruth Palombo, the foundation’s senior health policy officer.
“People need to talk with each other to discuss the data and really work together to make changes,” Palombo said.
Elizabeth Dugan, a professor at the Gerantology Institute of the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, was one of the researchers involved in the yearlong study.
Dugan said they plan to look at how affluence and education affect healthy aging, and add in other conditions such as asthma.
“We know from other studies that there are certain social factors that have a role in health outcomes,” Dugan said. “It’s a process that starts at birth. We’re constantly adding to or subtracting from our ability for healthy aging.”
The other researchers involved in the study were Dugan’s colleagues Frank Porell and Nina Silverstein.
Data for the study came from the U.S. Census, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The study found that 90 percent of Massachusetts residents age 60 and over get annual physicals.
Jim Roosevelt, president of the Tufts Health Plan Foundation and CEO of the Tufts Health Plan, said states are commonly ranked on various health factors, but this is the first time there been a breakdown by municipality.
“Never before has Massachusetts had such a comprehensive view of healthy-aging indicators reported at this local level,” he said.
– See more at: http://www.enterprisenews.com/article/20140127/NEWS/140126944/12319/LIFESTYLE#sthash.vQI6xa1W.dpuf