July 9, 2021 – Most US adults (77%) aged 50 and over in the US rated their overall health as good, very good, or excellent in an online survey conducted by WebMD and Capital Caring Health (CCH) , a Virginia-based nonprofit hospice / advanced care organization.
Of the respondents, 41% said their health was very good or excellent.
However, the odds differed widely by race, employment status, and income.
Self-reported health status by race / ethnicity *
Health Status% White% Black% Hispanic **
Excellent / Very good
Fair / Poor
* Sample sizes were too small to report results for people of Asian descent, Native American / Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian / Pacific Islander.
** Respondents who said they were of Hispanic origin were not counted as Black, White or other to avoid overlap.
Employment status was also associated with a significant difference in how people perceived their health at upper and lower levels.
The intermediate level (“good” health) was reported similarly (33% to 37%) whether a person was employed, retired or not. employment. However, employed respondents were much more likely to report having “excellent” or “very good” health (51% versus 44% for retirees and 21% for those without a job).
Conversely, those who were unemployed were much more likely to report “fair” or “poor” health (45%) than those who were employed (13%) or retired (20% ).
Similarly, respondents with incomes less than $ 50,000 were three times more likely to report their health as “fair” or “poor” than those with incomes above $ 100,000 (36% vs. 12%).
WebMD / CCH surveyed 3,464 US residents aged 50 and over between August 13 and November 9, 2020. WebMD.com readers were randomly invited to participate in a 10-minute online survey.
Aging at home a priority
The survey also found a strong preference for aging in place, says Steve Cone, head of communications and philanthropy at CCH.
“More than ever, thanks to the COVID experience, baby boomers and their children truly believe this is the holy grail,” he says.
Cone notes that the rapid spread of COVID-19 in some nursing homes at the onset of the pandemic likely strengthened people’s resolve to live their lives in their own homes.
The survey indicated that 85% of people aged 50 and over who live in their own home, the home of a family member or the home of a loved one responded that it is “very important” or “important” to stay in their home as they get older.
When asked what services they would need to maintain their living situation, the most common responses were housekeeping, home repair services, and transportation (listed as needs by 35% to 45% of respondents). Regarding changes they should make to feel safe in their home as they age, installing grab bars and / or safety rails in the tub / shower was the most popular response (50%).
Use of telemedicine
Respondents were also asked about their acceptance of telemedicine, and 62% said they would be likely or very likely to engage in virtual visits with a doctor in the future.
However, the probability varied with income level. Specifically, respondents with income over $ 100,000 were much more likely to say they would use telemedicine in the future than those with income below $ 50,000 (74% vs. 60%). They were also more likely to have used telemedicine in the past.
Percentage who used telemedicine by income
Income level% of use
Over $ 100,000
$ 50,000 to $ 100,000
Less than $ 50,000
Although respondents have generally adopted telemedicine, they are less confident about certain types of surveillance, according to Cone.
Emergency response (64%) was the main type of remote monitoring that respondents aged 50 and older would allow. Only a minority of respondents would authorize the other types of follow-up requested in the survey.
Almost a quarter of respondents would not allow any type of follow-up.
Less than a third would be able to track treatment adherence, refrigerator use, sleep patterns or toilet use.
People see the monitoring of certain movements as “Orwellian,” Cone says.
Knowledge of the hospice
The survey results support the need for more widespread use of hospice care so people can stay in their homes as they age, Cone says.
When the disease gets worse, “there’s no reason you have to rush to the emergency room or end up in the hospital,” Cone says.
He notes that hospice and palliative care can come to patients wherever they reside – at their home, an assisted living facility, a nursing home, or even a hospital room.
“It doesn’t mean the doctor isn’t involved,” he says. “But by working as a team, we can keep them intact in their homes and in their way of life.”
Patients whose doctors certify that they are likely to live a maximum of 6 months are eligible for the hospice. But most families wait too long to begin palliative care or a patient’s palliative care, says Cone, and may not be aware of what these services typically cover, including meal preparation and family care. pets.
In the survey, almost a third of respondents said they were unaware that palliative care is something that “can be provided at any stage of serious illness” or “provides services not medical (eg insurance problems, appointment scheduling, transport organization).
He notes that hospice and palliative care are covered by Medicare and Medicaid as well as by most private insurance plans or by individual companies providing the service.
However, health care providers may need to overcome a general reluctance to discuss palliative care when sharing options for the critically ill.
The survey showed that while 51% of people aged 50 and over are at least ‘slightly interested’ in learning more about palliative care, almost an equal number say they are ‘not at all interested’ (49 %).
Most people who use palliative care are white
Over 90% of those surveyed said that some aspect of palliative care, including “patient comfort and pain relief at the end of life,” providing a dedicated care team and an alternative to other care settings, are “Very important” or “important.”
However, national hospice utilization rates are extremely low for minorities and the LGBTQ community, according to Cone. Among Medicare hospice recipients, 82% were White, 8.2% Black, 6.7% Hispanic and 1.8% Asian or Pacific Islander, according to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.
These figures signal a need to raise awareness among these communities with information on the services available and how to access them, he said.
Health costs are the main concern
The survey also asked about the level of concern regarding issues such as family, health, finances and end-of-life guidelines and found that adults aged 50 and over expressed the greatest concern about health care costs that are not covered by insurance.
More than half (56%) say they are concerned or very concerned about these costs, which is higher than the percentage concerned about the loss of a spouse (49%).
Respondents were less concerned (“slightly concerned” or “not at all concerned”) that their children are living far away, planning end-of-life directives, and falling or having reduced mobility.
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