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The Governor’s Summit

Healthy Aging:  Living Longer Better

Two events occurred during 2014 that inspired us to more closely examine the health of Oklahoma’s aging population. The first occurred when the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) President and Connecticut Department of Public Health Commissioner, Jewel Mullen, MD, MPH, MPA, challenged states to implement evidence-based strategies to increase the number of older adults who are living well in communities across the Nation. Dr. Mullen sought to shift the conversation from healthcare costs incurred by older adults to a focus on prevention.

The release of America’s Health Rankings Senior Report by the United Health Foundation spurred us on to believe that we could do better. Data from this report revealed that Oklahoma had one of the highest rates in the country for physical inactivity among seniors with 36.7%, or 189,000 seniors who were physically inactive. According to the report, Oklahoma’s fall rate of 32.7% for persons aged 65 and over was 226% higher than the state with the lowest rate of 14.5%. Hip fractures were even higher at 9.2 per 1,000 Medicare beneficiaries, putting Oklahoma’s ranking for hip fractures at number 50. Oklahoma’s overall ranking for senior health at number 47 in the Nation presented us with many opportunities to improve.

Representatives from several organizations across the State who were already working on aging issues came together to discuss ways to address the challenges of healthy aging in Oklahoma. As a result, the Governor’s first healthy aging summit was held on December 15, 2014. Private citizens and individuals from across the state representing health care organizations, health care associations, tribal organizations, colleges, universities, physicians, clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living centers, veteran's centers, retirement communities, county health departments, quality improvement organizations, area agencies on aging, home health and hospice agencies, and staff from several Oklahoma State Agencies, among others, attended the Governor’s Healthy Aging: Living Longer Better Summit.

The goal of the Summit was to energize and inspire participants, promote partnerships and collaboration among stakeholders, and reach an agreement on statewide goals for significant improvements in health outcomes for older adults. More information is provided in the Summit reports.

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