Report identifies positive trends about seniors
Tuesday, May 07, 2013 5:00 PM
RENO - The Sanford Center for Aging, a unit of the Division of Health Sciences at the University of Nevada, Reno, and its partners, the Nevada State Health Division and the Nevada Aging and Disability Services Division, have published a report called Elders Count Nevada (2013).
Elders Count Nevada (2013) is the third installment in a series of reports published in 2007 and 2009 that provide insight into the overall health and well-being of Nevada's elders.
The report utilizes data from authoritative sources and has been expanded considerably to include information by geographic region of residency (i.e., urban and rural/frontier regions); the state's older veteran population; impact and prevalence of substance use, misuse and abuse; and a new chapter on transportation and infrastructure as it relates to access, safety and ridership.
The report contains vital information in six key areas: population, transportation and infrastructure, economics, health status, health risks and behaviors and health care.
Positive trends identified in the report include:
Lower prevalence of obesity: In 2011, an estimated 18.1 percent of Nevadans 65 and older met the criteria for obesity, compared with about a third of seniors nationally.
Relatively healthier finances: Despite the recession and Nevada having the highest unemployment rate in the nation between 2008 and 2010, Nevada seniors managed to maintain a lower poverty rate and a higher median income than seniors nationally.
Longstanding doctor shortage may be easing: Between 2000 and 2010, medical school enrollment nearly tripled in Nevada and the state is retaining a higher percentage of its medical school graduates than other states.
In addition, all medical schools now require coursework in geriatric medicine, which promises more effective treatment of senior illnesses in the future.
Familiar issues in the report continue to be:
Divorce: 16 percent of Nevada men 60 and older are divorced, compared with 10.8 percent nationally. For older women, the rate is 18.7 percent, compared with 13.3 percent nationally.
Suicides: Since 2008, Nevada has ranked either fourth or fifth in the nation for the number of suicides. The state's rate is consistently above the national rate, and in 2009 suicide was the seventh-leading cause of death among Nevada adults 55-64.
Tobacco: Although tobacco use in Nevada has steadily declined - from 28.2 percent in 1996 to 21.3 percent in 2010 - the state continues to rank in the top third and is the worst in the West.
Excess drinking: The rate of heavy alcohol use among older adults in Nevada (4.8 percent) is much higher than the national rate (1.7 percent).
Civic apathy: Since 1989 the trend in Nevada has been toward increasing volunteerism, but between 2008 and 2010, older adults, who are often newcomers to the state, had the nation's lowest average level of civic engagement.