Detroiters at higher risk of dying before their time #TellUsDetroit

By Angelina Czarnecki/Tell Us Detroit

DETROIT (Tell Us Det) – According to the study Dying Before Their Time II released by the Detroit Area Agency on Aging (DAAA) Detroit residents age 50 and older have a significantly higher mortality rate, require more hospitalizations, suffer from more chronic illnesses, and have less access to health care than residents of the same age who live in the rest of Michigan. The DAAA is a private, non-profit agency with a mission to educate, advocate and promote healthy aging to enable people to make choices about home and community-based services and long term care that will improve their quality of life.

The study examines the demographic trends, mortality rates, hospital use, preventable hospitalization, chronic illnesses and access to care among older adults in the Detroit area, and compares them to the rates for seniors living in the rest of Michigan. Principal investigators conducting the study are Herbert C. Smitherman, Jr., MD, MPH, FACP Wayne State University School of Medicine/Detroit Medical Centerand Lee Kallenbach, MHP, Ph.D., an independent health epidemiologist now based in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area and formerly of the Wayne State University School of Medicine/Detroit Medical Center.

“Detroit residents are getting sicker and dying at a younger age than people in the rest of the State of Michigan,” said DAAA President and CEO Paul Bridgewater. “Because of the lack of availability of health care coverage, younger residents are developing chronic illnesses that are not treated at an early stage. If found early enough, these illnesses could have been treated and prevented from advancing to a chronic stage and having a negative effect on overall health and causing premature death.”

Data was collected from a three year span of 2007-2009, the mortality rate for Detroiters age 50-59 was 1,321 per 100,000 compared to a mortality rate of 571 per 100,000 for that age group in the rest of the state. In that period a total of 1,443 Detroiters in the 50 to 59 age group died. If the mortality rate in Detroit were the same as the rest of the state, the number of deaths statistically likely to happen would have been 626 deaths, meaning that there were 822 excessive deaths.

Within the study it was revealed that those 50 to 59 approaching older adult status and older adults aged 60 to 74 who live in the Detroit area: have a significantly higher mortality rate, are getting sicker at a younger age, require more hospitalizations, suffer from more chronic illnesses and are more likely to reside in a federally designated Medically Underserved Area with limited access to care than their counterparts who live in other areas in the state.

Detroit is medically undeserved,” Smitherman said. “About 64.6 percent of the city’s residents are classified as living in a Medically Underserved Area because the number of primary care physicians is low, infant mortality is high and much of the population is below the poverty level or is elderly. In addition, many residents are not covered by any form of health insurance, making routine medical care unaffordable.”

The DAAA is working to encourage system and policy change to provide residents with interventions at an earlier age as well as more community resources to address the special needs of this targeted population. Also the DAAA plans to provide more community resources to address the special needs of this targeted population. Access to primary care physicians and other practitioners and special outreach to older adults who do not have health insurance, transportation, experience literacy and language barriers are some of the key services that address the needs of the population.

Data sources for the Dying Before Their Time II study include the U.S. Census 2000 and 2010, the Michigan Department of Community Health, the Michigan Health and Hospital Association, and the HRSA Data Warehouse and Shortage Designation.

 

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