While deaths from COVID-19 have naturally been a major focus over the past 18 months, cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains a significant and growing problem. Even during the pandemic, heart disease was the leading cause of death in 2020. More than 868,000 Americans die of heart disease or stroke every year. That’s one-third of all deaths.
Nearly a quarter of men (23%) and 14% of women between ages 60 and 79 have some type of heart disease and millions more are at risk due to hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity, family history, or other risk factors.
The pandemic may have even worsened rates of CVD, as many people avoided or delayed routine health care and management of chronic conditions. For those over 80, the rate of CVD jumps to 36% for men and 21% for women. As the population of older adults in the U.S. increases to a projected 22% in 2050, heart disease will continue to impact mortality and morbidity rates. So it makes sense to become familiar with one of the leading types of heart disease, atherosclerosis. Continue reading
Falls are the leading cause of injury and death in older adults. Those with cognitive impairment are two to three times more likely to fall than those who are cognitively intact. We also know that certain medications can increase the risk of falls in older adults. According to researchers at Texas A&M University, those with dementia who regularly took pain medication and those with probable dementia who took pain medication two or more days a week in the prior month were more likely to fall compared to those without dementia, according to the researchers. Continue reading
One in seven Americans is now 65 or older, comprising an increasing share of the U.S. population, according to the latest Profile of Older Americans. The annual summary of vital statistics from the Administration on Community Living (ACL) illustrates the shifting demographics of community-dwelling elders, including income, living arrangements, education, health, and caregiving. The summary also includes special sections on COVID-19 and mental health. Continue reading
The latest annual report on America’s seniors finds older adults showed improvement on clinical measures like access to quality health care and preventive services, especially flu vaccination rates. But these improvements are tempered with some serious challenges: those over 65 also had several worsening behavioral health outcomes, including increases in drug deaths, suicides and frequent mental distress.
And, despite successes in certain clinical measures, health improvements for older adults were not felt equally across the country. For example, populations in rural states and certain racial and ethnic groups faced more significant hurdles than their urban, white counterparts, according to America’s Health Rankings, who published the analysis in May. (Don’t miss our AHCJ panel on rural aging on Wednesday, June 23, 2021, at 12:10 pm ET. Continue reading
An interesting study out of the UK found that the COVID-19 lockdown was a catalyst for many older people to embrace technology to reconnect with friends and build new relationships with neighbors. The findings are a counterpoint to other research documenting the toll that loneliness and social isolation has been taking on many elders during the pandemic.
Understanding the coping mechanisms adopted by some older adults during the pandemic will play a key role in developing interventions to help tackle loneliness, isolation and well-being in the future. Continue reading