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Chronic Conditions Increasing Among Seniors

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds a dramatic increase in the number of older adults with two or more chronic conditions. The increase was seen across genders, race, and socioeconomic status.

The CDC studied the prevalence of hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, stroke, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, current asthma, and kidney disease among adults age 65 and older over ten years. Researchers found that the number of seniors with two or more of the selected chronic conditions increased from 37.2 percent in 2000 to 45.3 percent in 2010. This change was particularly dramatic for men. In 2000, 39.2 percent of senior men had two or more chronic conditions. In 2010, this number jumped to 49 percent.

The most common combinations of chronic conditions were hypertension and diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, and hypertension and cancer. Seniors with these combinations of conditions were also likely to suffer from other chronic conditions. For example, of the 21.2 percent of seniors who suffered from hypertension and heart disease in 2010, 63.7 percent had at least one of the other seven chronic conditions as well.

Researchers believe these results are likely understating the prevalence of chronic conditions, since the study relied on respondent-reported information, not physician data, and many chronic conditions are undiagnosed. The report also emphasized the effects of this increase on our healthcare system. “Persons with MCC (multiple chronic conditions) are more likely to be hospitalized, fill more prescriptions and have higher annual prescription drug costs, and have more physician visits. Out-of-pocket spending is higher for persons with multiple chronic conditions and has increased in recent years… The increasing prevalence of MCC presents a complex challenge to the U.S. health care system, both in terms of quality of life and expenditures for an aging population,” read the report.

Read more about the CDC’s findings in the data brief: Multiple Chronic Conditions Among Adults Aged 45 and Over: Trends Over the Past 10 Years

Read more about high acuity residents in the Senior Living Executive article Service Spectrum

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