Older Americans Missing Preventive Screenings

Millions of older Americans are not getting preventive care services to protect them from common illnesses like the flu to serious diseases such as diabetes and cancer.

According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many people older than 65 are not taking advantage of health services covered by Medicare and the Affordable Care Act.

Some of the missed prevention services include screenings to detect breast cancer, colorectal cancer, diabetes, lipid disorders and osteoporosis. Older Americans are also forgoing vaccinations that protect against influenza and pneumococcal disease, according to the report.

About 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day. By 2030, about one in five Americans will be 65 or older.

“We know prevention is critical to healthy living and independence,” said Kathy Greenlee, assistant secretary for aging in a news release. “It is important that we continue our efforts at the community level to reach all older Americans. We want to ensure that they are aware of the preventive benefits which are available to them, including those made possible by the Affordable Care Act.”

Minorities appeared to be receiving fewer screenings than whites, according to the report. As many as 47 percent of Hispanics reported not being screened for colorectal cancer compared to 34 percent of whites. More than 50 percent of Hispanics, 47 percent of blacks and 36 percent of whites reported never getting a pneumococcal vaccination.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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