Aging is, as they say, the great leveler; can anything be said about human beings with greater certainty than “We’re all getting older, one day at a time”?
So everyone has a stake in the way healthcare policies shape the design and organization of care for people as they age – not just the millions of Americans who have passed their 50th birthday (the threshold for AARP eligibility), their 65th birthday (when people can enroll in Medicare coverage), or other significant milestones. As another saying goes, age is just a number – it’s the quality of our years that matters most.
At IHPI, our members study ways to better understand and improve the health and well-being of older adults, as well as the effectiveness and costs of the care provided to them. Their research evaluates the policies and programs that affect how health services are delivered to this fastest-growing age group, with the greater goal of ensuring that policymakers embrace evidence about what works, and learn from what doesn’t.
Our National Poll on Healthy Aging is one example
Now in its third year, this survey explores the thoughts and experiences of adults age 50-80 to understand what matters most when it comes to their health and healthcare, and the results are informing public understanding and current policy decision-making:
Emergency Planning among Older Adults
Released just as Hurricane Dorian tore through the Bahamas and made its way up the southeastern U.S. coast, the NPHA report on disaster preparedness drew widespread attention to older adults’ general state of “unpreparedness” for emergency situations, which helped promote readiness resources.
Health Insurance Decision-Making Near Retirement
Many adults nearing retirement age have serious concerns about their current and future insurance status, according to the poll, results that U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow from Michigan cited when introducing legislation aimed at giving those 50 years and older the option to buy into Medicare coverage.
Safely Storing Medication Around Grandchildren
Older adults generally are not taking precautions to keep their medications safely stored around grandchildren, a finding widely covered in national media as a potential safety concern affecting many.
Thinking About Brain Health
And nearly half of Americans in their 50s and early 60s think they’re likely to develop dementia as they grow older, but only a fraction of them have actually talked with a doctor about what they could do to reduce their risk.
New this year, researchers everywhere now have free access to data from the poll (which is conducted by IHPI and sponsored by AARP and Michigan Medicine, U-M’s academic medical center) through an agreement with the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR).
More than half of older adults in our survey reported having a pet. Learn more about what respondents said about their reasons for having pets, and the benefits and challenges that come along with them.