Report card finds older Americans fail 6 of 10 goals for improving healthy aging

December 11, 2002

A report card grading the health of older Americans finds that the nation failed to meet 6 of 10 goals for improving the health status of older Americans, including goals set for physical activity, nutrition, weight, pneumonia vaccination, and injuries and deaths due to falls. But the good news is that the nation met important targets for smoking, colorectal screening, mammograms, and flu shots.

Hawaii was one of the healthiest states for older Americans while Kentucky ranked among the least healthy states. All states missed targets for physical activity, nutrition, and weight. The only goal met by all states was for mammogram screenings.

Jointly sponsored by the Merck Institute of Aging & Health and the National Academy on an Aging Society--the policy institute of The Gerontological Society of America-- The State of Aging and Health in America presents the first-ever assessment of progress at both the national and state levels towards health goals set for the older population by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Healthy People 2000.

"This is the very first time that anyone has compared national health goals set for older adults over a decade ago to the current reality," according to Toni C. Antonucci, Ph.D., President of The Gerontological Society of America. "The report finds that we're living longer lives, but not necessarily better ones. But it also points out what we can do to help turn the promise of healthy aging into reality for older Americans."

The report also focuses on the growing gap between older Americans' physical and mental health care needs and the preparation and skills of health professionals who care for them. The report issues "calls to action" to increase education and training in geriatrics for current and future health professionals and to improve the diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions among the elderly.

"Aging policy needs to be guided by the type of sound research and scholarship found in this report," says Dr. Jeanette Takamura, Dean of the Columbia School of Social Work and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Aging.
The National Academy on an Aging Society ( is the policy institute of The Gerontological Society of America.

The Gerontological Society of America

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