Seniors Not Getting Important Preventive Health
TUESDAY, March 15 (HealthDay News) -- Many Americans aged 65 and
older are not receiving potentially lifesaving preventive health
services, says a new report by several U.S. Department of Health
and Human Services agencies.
Too few seniors are getting recommended vaccinations for
influenza and pneumococcal disease, including bloodstream
infections, meningitis and pneumonia; help with quitting smoking;
or screenings for breast cancer, colorectal cancer, diabetes, high
cholesterol and osteoporosis, according to the report released
"Millions of Americans are not getting proven clinical preventive services that we know can prevent disease and improve quality of life," study author Lynda Anderson, director of the Healthy Aging Program at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a CDC news release.
"This report takes stock of current levels of recommended services by older adults, and it becomes obvious that many of these services are woefully underutilized," she added.
Each day, about 10,000 Americans turn 65. By 2030, about one in
five Americans will be 65 or older. The authors said their report
highlights the need to promote preventive services for older
people, especially among minorities.
Among the findings:
- More than 50 percent of Hispanics aged 65 and older said they
had never received a pneumococcal vaccination, along with 47
percent of blacks and Asian/Pacific Islanders, and 36 percent of
- About 49 percent of Asian/Pacific Islanders and 47 percent of
Hispanics said they had not been screened for colorectal cancer,
compared with 34 percent of whites.
Many older adults may not be aware of the preventive services
recommended for their age group or may not know that the services
are covered by Medicare, the report suggested.
"We know prevention is critical to healthy living and independence," Kathy Greenlee, assistant secretary for aging at Health and Human Services, said in the news release. "It is important that we continue our efforts at the community level to reach all older Americans. We want to ensure that they are aware of the preventive benefits which are available to them, including those made possible by the Affordable Care Act."
The report lists a number of ways to increase the use of
preventive services in underserved communities, including
increasing awareness through media and providing services in
convenient community settings, such as providing flu shots at
polling stations on election days.
"If we can help patients age 65 and older get the recommended preventive screenings and regular immunizations, we could significantly reduce unnecessary illness," Dr. Edward Langston, an American Medical Association board member, said in the news release.
The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about
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