Resident healthcare needs likely to grow, report suggests

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Senior living communities should be prepared to meet increasing healthcare needs of residents in the coming years, suggests a new report.

The incidence of diabetes has grown 55% among adults aged 50 to 64 years, and obesity has grown 25%, compared with adults the same age 15 years ago, according to the United Health Foundation's 2016 America's Health Rankings Senior Report. And the health status of the middle-aged population does not bode well for the future, researchers say.

“As a geriatrician, I see certain health conditions ‘snowball' as people age — that is, smaller problems in middle age can get much larger and more complicated, affecting overall health much more as we age,” says Rhonda Randall, D.O., senior adviser to United Health Foundation and chief medical officer and executive vice president of UnitedHealthcare Retiree Solutions.

The report is a call to action, she adds. “We must work together — across states, communities and the public health sector — to find ways to continue improving delivery of care to seniors and encourage wellness and health among both current and future seniors.”

Among states with older adult populations deemed to be growing rapidly, Nebraska and Colorado will experience the most dramatic increases in the prevalence of diabetes among current middle-aged adults who will turn 65 by the year 2030. Those states will see diabetes rate increases of 145% and 138%, respectively, compared with rates among current seniors when they were middle-aged, according to the report. Five other states will face increases of at least 80%.

Arizona will experience the most dramatic increase, 96%, in the prevalence of obesity among current middle-aged adults, the report states. Ten other states, however, will face increases of at least 20%.

The obesity rate among current seniors has increased 9% over the past three years.

This year's report maintains that the healthiest state for older adults is Massachusetts, which replaces last year's leader, Vermont. Louisiana keeps its place as least healthy state for older adults.

The report bases its findings on data from more than a dozen government agencies and research organizations.

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