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Able-Bodied, 2018 Senior Report
Measure: Able-bodied, 2018 Senior Report

Why does this matter?

Older adults who are able-bodied are more likely to engage in physical activity and maintain social connectedness than those with disabilities. Compared with able-bodied older adults, those living with disabilities are more likely to smoke and have higher prevalences of obesity, heart disease and diabetes. In addition, older adults with cognitive disabilities such as Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia are hospitalized twice as often as older adults without cognitive impairment.

In 2019, roughly one-quarter of adults ages 65-74 and nearly half of adults ages 75 and older reported having a disability, including cognitive, visual, auditory, ambulatory, self-care and independent living difficulties.

  • U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2016

Early Death, 2018 Senior Report
Measure: Early Death - Ages 65-74, 2018 Senior Report

Why does this matter?

In 2020, life expectancy at age 65 was 18.5 years and yet many older adults do not live to see their 75th birthday. According to the CDC WONDER Online Database, 674,507 adults ages 65-74 died in 2020 and the death rate among adults ages 65-74 increased 17% from 1,764.6 to 2,072.3 deaths per 100,000 between 2019 and 2020.

The leading causes of death in the United States in 2020 were heart disease, cancer, COVID-19, unintentional injuries, stroke, chronic lower respiratory diseases and Alzheimer’s disease, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Research estimates that 48% of all deaths are due to behavioral and other preventable causes. 

In addition to physiological and behavioral factors, social factors contribute to mortality risk. Based on data from 2010, poverty, low social support, living in areas with high poverty, income inequality and racial segregation were associated with increased risk of death in adults ages 65 and older. Additionally, social isolation increases the risk of premature death.

  • CDC WONDER, Multiple Cause of Death Files, 2016

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

Why does this matter?

Falls among older adults can lead to serious injuries such as hip fractures and traumatic brain injuries. Other potential consequences of falls include restricted activity, loss of independence and premature death. The fatality rate from falls has been increasing, particularly among those ages 85 and older. As the older adult population grows and lives longer, the number of falls is expected to increase.

Contributing factors for falls — and related injuries such as hip fractures — include poor balance, poor vision, certain medications, alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, osteoporosis, physical disabilities and general frailty.

Falls among older adults result in substantial medical costs. In 2015, the estimated medical costs attributable to fatal and nonfatal falls were approximately $50 billion. The average direct cost of fall injuries is $9,780 per non-fatal fall and $26,340 per fatal fall.

  • CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2016

Frequent Mental Distress, 2018 Senior Report
Measure: Frequent Mental Distress - Ages 65+, 2018 Senior Report

Why does this matter?

Frequent mental distress is an indicator of health-related quality of life and the burden of mental illness in a population. Frequent mental distress is characterized by 14 or more days of self-reported poor mental health in the past month. The cutoff point of 14 or more days is used because a strong relationship has been demonstrated between the 14-day minimum period and clinically diagnosed mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety. This measure aims to capture the population experiencing persistent and likely severe mental health issues.

Frequent mental distress is associated with health conditions and risk factors for poor health, including diabetes, hypertension, smoking, obesity, physical inactivity and insufficient sleep.

  • CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2016

High Health Status, 2018 Senior Report
Measure: High Health Status - Ages 65+, 2018 Senior Report

Why does this matter?

Self-reported health status is a measure of how individuals perceive their health. It is a subjective measure of health-related quality of life and is not limited to specific health conditions or outcomes. Instead, it is informed by life experiences, the health of others in one’s life, support from family and friends and other factors affecting well-being. Health status is used to track the health of a population over time and is an independent predictor of mortality. The association between health status and mortality makes this measure a good predictor of future mortality rates and future use of health care. Among adults ages 65 and older, self-reported health status is a good predictor of both short- and long-term mortality.

  • CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2016

Hip Fractures, 2018 Senior Report
  • The Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care, 2014

ICU Use, 2018 Senior Report
  • The Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care, 2015

Teeth Extractions, 2018 Senior Report
Measure: Teeth Extractions - Ages 65+, 2018 Senior Report

Why does this matter?

Complete tooth loss, also known as edentulism, is described as the “ultimate marker of disease burden for oral health.” The most common causes of complete tooth loss are tooth decay and gum disease. 

Having all or some permanent teeth missing is associated with an increased risk of disability, mortality and reduced daily function and quality of life, as well as multiple chronic conditions such as:

Missing teeth or having dentures can impair one’s ability to eat and speak and is associated with poor nutrition. Because dentures are less efficient for chewing than natural teeth, people using dentures tend to eat softer foods that are easy to chew and therefore consume fewer fruits and vegetables. Studies find that having an oral health issue that impacts daily life is associated with loneliness among older adults. 

Average annual dental expenditures are highest among adults ages 65 years and older, costing $767 per patient in this age group in 2011.

  • CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2016

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