McCormack Speaks

Are Rhode Island Seniors Healthy?


Elder with health aideThe Tufts Health Plan Foundation and the Rhode Island Healthy Aging Advisory Council released the results of the Rhode Island 2016 Healthy Aging Data Report, prepared by the Gerontology Institute at UMass Boston’s McCormack Graduate School, at a State House briefing on October 13.

The report details 120 healthy aging indicators for older adults in each of the state’s 39 cities and towns and shows how Rhode Island compares to other New England states.

This is the first time in Rhode Island that individuals will be able to compare communities within the state on healthy aging indicators–from chronic conditions like hypertension, diabetes, and obesity to healthy aging behaviors like diet, exercise, and immunizations.

Researchers reported:

  • approximately 25% of the population is over 65 and the state is home to the largest number of seniors over age 85 in the country
  • more than three quarters of RI seniors have high blood pressure and high cholesterol
  • Rhode Island men scored higher in getting preventative screenings than women
  • the occurrence of chronic disease is more prevalent in lower socio-economic cities
  • older residents living in rural communities had lower rates of chronic disease that those living in urban areas.

Gerontology professors Elizabeth Dugan, Frank Porell, and Nina Silverstein led the research for the catalytic report. Dugan notes, “Never before has so much data on healthy aging been reported at such a local level in Rhode Island. Understanding the strengths and challenges communities are facing will allow more informed policy and service delivery options.”

With the data and the partnership of their RI Advisory Committee, Dugan states, “Rhode Island is poised to become a national leader in healthy aging.”

Dean David W. Cash, dean of the McCormack Graduate School, praises the report. “This is the groundbreaking type of real-world research for which the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies is known. By working with key stakeholders, solutions for the toughest challenges can be found.”

The Gerontology Institute conducts research and policy analysis in the field of aging, and offers lifelong learning and pension recovery services to older adults. The Institute has four priority areas—productive aging; economic security; social and demographic research on aging; and long-term services and supports—with special emphasis on low-income and minority elders.


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