46 Healthy Aging

Implications of an Aging Society

By 2030, the number of U.S. adults aged 65 or older will more than double to about 71 million. The rapidly increasing number of older Americans has far-reaching implications for our nation’s public health system and will place unprecedented demands on the provision of health care and aging-related services. Public health efforts to promote health and functional independence are critical strategies in helping older adults stay healthy. Research has shown that poor health does not have to be an inevitable consequence of aging. Older adults who practice healthy behaviors, take advantage of clinical preventive services, and continue to engage with family and friends are more likely to remain healthy, live independently, and incur fewer health-related costs.

An essential component to keeping older adults healthy is preventing chronic diseases and reducing associated complications. About 80% of older adults have one chronic condition, and 50% have at least two. Infectious diseases (such as influenza and pneumococcal disease) and injuries also take a disproportionate toll on older adults. Efforts to identify strategies to prevent or reduce the risk of disease and injury and to widely apply effective interventions must be pursued.

Tips on how to stay healthy, get good health care, and manage lifestyle changes as you age are available at Healthy Aging at NIH Senior Health.

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Source: Helping People To Live Long and Productive Lives and Enjoy a Good Quality Of Life: At a Glance 2011, http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/AAG/aging.htm


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