Arizona is experiencing a record shift in the number of older adults. By 2050, the number of Arizonans age 65 and older is expected to increase 174%, which represents 2,422,186 people. Also, the current trend of longevity among aging adults represents both opportunities and challenges in the years ahead. Older adults are living longer; however, they do not always live healthier.
Based on hospital discharge data, females 65 and older are experiencing the largest burden of disease and are being treated the most in our hospitals for different illnesses. Among females age 65 and older, Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of death. Deaths from Alzheimer’s disease have increased by 55% from 2002 to 2012. Over time there will be an increased need for services from our health care and economic support systems. It is even more critical that we focus on earlier ages and take steps toward prevention before diseases manifests themselves.
In 2012, we established the Arizona Healthy Aging initiative, which focuses on strategic planning, resource leveraging, and cross-cutting collaborations that address the health needs and disparities for older Arizonans. This month the Arizona Healthy Aging Program released the 2014-2018 Arizona Healthy Aging Strategic Plan. Based on themes identified during the development of the plan, three major areas of concentration were identified as priority areas in helping Arizonans live both longer and better lives over the next few years. The priority areas are to Increase awareness of the impact of Alzheimer’s disease, reduce the impact of fall-related injuries, increase the capacity of older adults to manage their chronic disease conditions.
Check out the plan online now at the Arizona Healthy Aging website.