The report’s research confirms that, among Detroit and the eight neighboring cities studied, the death rate for adults ages 60-74 is 48% higher than the rest of Michigan. Additionally, adults in the study area ages 50-59 are dying at a rate 122% higher than the rest of Michigan. The study shows that these death rates have persisted for at least two decades, and possibly more than 50 years, as a result of deep-rooted negative social and economic policies and significant inequities in resource distribution.

   

 
 

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2020 Edition of “Dying Before Their Time” Report calls for comprehensive response

 

DETROIT – The Detroit Area Agency on Aging (DAAA) today released the 2020 edition of its signature research report, “Dying Before their Time,”  a consolidation of three major studies published between 1999 and 2017 that provides comparative analysis of excess mortality among people age 60 and above in Detroit and eight of its neighboring cities.

 

Since research for DAAA’s original DBTT report began in 1997, the focus of the report has broadened to address the disproportionate mortality rates of an increasingly vulnerable senior population.  The report’s key findings reveal a substantial increase of seniors suffering from an epidemic of chronic disease and lack of affordable, accessible health care, and detail the disparate impacts among communities experiencing diverse socio-economic conditions.

 

The report’s research confirms that, among Detroit and the eight neighboring cities studied, the death rate for adults ages 60-74 is 48% higher than the rest of Michigan. Additionally, adults in the study area ages 50-59 are dying at a rate 122% higher than the rest of Michigan. The study shows that these death rates have persisted for at least two decades, and possibly more than 50 years, as a result of deep-rooted negative social and economic policies and significant inequities in resource distribution.

 

Researchers also found that chronic illness remains at epidemic levels in the study area’s older adult population, playing a major role in the disproportionately high death rate in the Detroit-area communities studied. Data collected in the study area shows that 89% of older adults have at least one chronic illness, and 39% of older adults have three or more chronic illnesses.

 

Crucially, lack of health insurance was found to be a major factor contributing to younger residents developing chronic illnesses that go unaddressed and contribute to early death.  Almost the entire study population (94.3%) live in areas designated as having a shortage of health professionals and lacking access to primary care services.  Over two-thirds of these older adults (69%) live in even more dire medically underserved areas, compared to just 16.5% of older adults in the rest of Michigan, a difference that has increased over time.

 

“‘Dying Before Their Time’ is a call to action for our region,” said Ronald S. Taylor, president and CEO of the Detroit Area Agency on Aging, “and the research confirms that something startling is happening to our older neighbors.” 

 

“The mortality rate of older adults in Detroit has trended upward over the past 30 years,” added Taylor. “Social determinants of health, such as appropriate nutrition, housing, access to adequate healthcare and social services, environmental justice issues, and overall neighborhood conditions influence 60-70% of the health and wellbeing of an individual and their surrounding community.  Working together, our solutions must address these conditions.”

 

Commissioned by DAAA and prepared by researchers from the Wayne State School of Medicine, the 2020 report expands the scope of previous editions, expanding the original research goal to understand and analyze why the mortality rate of older adults in the DAAA’s service area is so much greater than the rest of the state, and to explore why this disparity has increased since research for the original DBTT report began in 1997. 

 

The 2020 DBTT report’s recommendations culminate in an urgent call to policymakers, stakeholders and service providers to address a combination of conditions identified as root causes for the significant rise in mortality rates among seniors in DAAA’s service area, and disproportionately so when compared to their peers in the rest of Michigan. 

 

To address these excessive mortality rates, the report’s authors provide a road map of both short-term and long-term courses of action to address what they observe to be an “excess mortality epidemic,” and to improve the health of an increasingly vulnerable population. To directly address the health and impact on Detroit’s seniors, the DAAA is committed to focus on the following services and advocacy:

 

  • Access and delivery of ambulatory and primary healthcare services

  • Quality of health and human services provided

  • Improved health and human service resource integration and collaboration

  • Training and availability of highly skilled healthcare personnel

  • Access to quality hospital, nursing home and long-term care facilities

 

Over the long term, the report calls for a collaborative, coordinated, and strategic approach to be developed and adopted by the entire health and human service provider community, which will be critical to making any meaningful impact on decreasing the death rate. 

 

“The Detroit Area Agency on Aging and the Wayne State Medical School stand by the DBTT III report, and the research that documents the path toward a comprehensive, sustained effort,” said Taylor.  “Without the allocation of sufficient resources and infrastructure required to improve the health and social conditions of this population - reversing centuries of racialized poverty - we will continue to see the same trend line of this study persist over many decades to come.”

 

ABOUT the Detroit-Area Agency on Aging (DAAA)

 

Established in 1980, the Detroit Area Agency on Aging (DAAA) is a nonprofit agency that serves older persons, adults with disabilities and caregivers residing in Detroit, the five Grosse Pointes, Hamtramck, Harper Woods and Highland Park. Our mission is 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.  Our vision is to create a community that cares for the vulnerable and advocates for the well-being of our constituents.

 

For more information, visit https://www.detroitseniorsolution.org/

 




 

 

 

   
 
 

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