Seniors -- Obesity, Diabetes, Heart Disease
living in the countryside, where open space is plentiful and there
is often significant agricultural production, California's more than
half a million rural seniors are far more likely to be overweight
or obese, physically inactive and food insecure than their suburban
counterparts, according to a new policy brief from the UCLA Center
for Health Policy Research.
conditions are risk factors for heart disease, diabetes and repeated
falls conditions also more prevalent among rural seniors.
710,000 Californians aged 65 and over live in the countryside
almost one-fifth of all older adults in the state. Yet rural seniors
experience unique challenges to healthy living, including a lack of
sidewalks, street lights, transportation services, access to healthy
food outlets, parks, exercise facilities and health care sites.
rural areas are also challenged by a dearth of physicians and other
primary care providers, compelling many seniors to travel long distances
to seek care.
countryside can have an isolating effect," said Steven P. Wallace,
the center's associate director and a co-author of the policy brief,
"The Health Status and Unique Health Challenges of Rural Older
Adults in California." "When even a trip to the grocery
store is a significant drive, seniors can become trapped in their
data from the 2007 California Health Interview Survey, center researchers
- Rural older adults are more likely to be overweight and obese
Older adults in rural areas are more often overweight or obese (61.3
percent) than their urban (57.3 percent) and suburban (54.0 percent)
older adults do not get enough exercise One in five rural elders
do not participate in either moderate or vigorous physical activity
in their leisure time.
and urban older adults are more likely to be food insecure One in
five low-income older adults in rural settings report that they
cannot consistently afford enough food to last the month. This rate
is about twice that of low-income suburban adults.
adults also have higher rates of heart disease and repeated falls
and are more likely to be low-income than suburban older adults,
a factor that exacerbates many health conditions.
so many of the health problems encountered by older adults living
in the countryside are structural, the authors of the study recommend
that policymakers consider a range of strategies to make rural environments
more senior-friendly. Those recommendations include "senior walkability
plans": identification of the routes seniors often use and subsequent
improvements to those routes, including the creation or improvement
of sidewalks, lighting and seating/benches.
authors also note that distance barriers faced by rural elders can
be reduced with the help of the Internet in a variety of ways, including
in-home monitoring, patient self-management and online ordering of
prescriptions. However, they note that infrastructure and adoption
hurdles in rural communities including a lack of broadband
infrastructure and an insufficient information technology workforce
must be addressed and that there must be assurances that insurance
companies will fully reimburse rural providers that use telemedicine.
recommendations include the use of "universal design" principles
in all public contracting, the promotion of federal subsidies and
assistance programs to rural grocery stores and other health food
outlets, expanded transportation services, and better incentives for
primary care providers who work in rural areas.
Throughout this website, statements are made pertaining to the properties
and/or functions of food and/or nutritional products. These statements
have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and
these materials and products are not intended to diagnose, treat,
cure or prevent any disease.