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Dental Visit, 2018 Senior Report
  • CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2016

Excessive Drinking, 2018 Senior Report
Measure: Excessive Drinking - Ages 65+, 2018 Senior Report

Why does this matter?

Excessive drinking is a problem that affects people of all ages and is responsible for approximately 95,000 deaths and 2.8 million years of potential life lost each year in the United States. Adults ages 65 and older experience a higher alcohol-attributed death rate than adults ages 25-44 years. Between 2015 and 2019, nearly 48,000 people ages 65 and older died from excessive alcohol use on average each year. 

Excessive alcohol consumption is associated with many negative health outcomes, including:

  • Unintentional injuries such as alcohol poisoning, motor vehicle accidents and falls.
  • Cardiovascular conditions including hypertension, heart disease and stroke.
  • Cancer of the breast, colon, esophagus, liver, mouth and throat.
  • Mental health consequences, including dementia and mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.

Alcohol tolerance tends to decrease with age, often leading to increased alcohol sensitivity among older adults. Alcohol also causes negative interactions with many prescription drugs, which are commonly used among older populations. More than 87% of people ages 65 and older have used at least one prescription drug within the last 30 days, and nearly 40% have used five or more prescription drugs. One study found that 20% of community-dwelling adults ages 57-84 reported drinking at least one drink a week while taking a medication with a documented alcohol interaction.

  • CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2016

Obesity, 2018 Senior Report
Measure: Obesity - Ages 65+, 2018 Senior Report

Why does it matter?

Adults with obesity have an increased risk of developing serious health conditions such as hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, sleep apnea and breathing problems, osteoarthritis, certain cancers, and mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. Research suggests that the strength of the association between obesity and mortality risk increases with age, making obesity among older adults an area of particular concern.

Contributing factors for obesity in older adults include behaviors such as poor diet and physical inactivity, certain health conditions, genetic predisposition and environmental elements such as safety, food access and infrastructure.

The estimated health care costs of obesity were $342.2 billion in 2013. Beyond direct medical costs, the indirect costs of decreased productivity tied to obesity are estimated at an additional $8.65 billion per year.

  • CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2016

Pain Management*, 2018 Senior Report
  • CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2015

Physical Inactivity, 2018 Senior Report
Measure: Physical Inactivity - Ages 65+, 2018 Senior Report

Why does this matter?

Physical inactivity, or being sedentary, can increase the risk of several health outcomes such as:

Around 10% of deaths among adults ages 40-69 and 7.8% of deaths among adults ages 70 and older were attributed to physical inactivity. Costs associated with physical inactivity account for more than 11% of total health care expenditures and are estimated at $117 billion annually.

  • CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2016

Smoking, 2018 Senior Report
Measure: Smoking - Ages 65+, 2018 Senior Report

Why does this matter?

Smoking cigarettes is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Smoking damages nearly every organ and causes serious health problems, including:

  • Chronic bronchitis, emphysema, pneumonia, influenza and other respiratory diseases.
  • Heart disease and stroke.
  • Cancers of the lung, mouth, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, liver and pancreas.
  • Diseases of the eye, including cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.

Even among older adults and long-term smokers, smoking cessation has been shown to improve health outcomes. Smoking costs the U.S. over $300 billion annually in direct health care expenditures and productivity losses due to premature death and secondhand smoke.

  • CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2016

*The data appearing in this edition are the same that appeared in the 2017 edition. A data update was not available at the time of this publication.

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