Report: Older Detroiters Dying Earlier

DETROIT (WWJ) – Some say a new report underscores the need for health care reform.

In “Dying Before Their Time II,” the Detroit Area Agency on Aging 1-A reports that older adults in Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park are dying at a much higher rate than their counterparts across the state.

“Elderly people are dying at a rate of 60 percent compared to other seniors in the state of Michigan,” said Dr. Herbert Smitherman Jr., an Assistant Dean at Wayne State University School of Medicine. “But, when you look at the 50-to-59 — they’re dying at a 131 percent higher than other individuals in the state of Michigan.”

Dr. Smitherman said this accelerated death rate can be attributed, in part, to complications from chronic diseases including hypertension, diabetes and heart disease along with lack of access to care.

He believes that the same trend could also be found in the area’s younger adults.

“What we’re saying is that the higher death rates are happening earlier and earlier … or earlier in this population and it is because of higher poverty rates, less access to a physician and medical services and no access to health care because they’re not insured.”

Dr. Smitherman said the Affordable Care Act will help more people access quality health care and will increase physician levels in underserved areas, such as Detroit.

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