Olivia Dean is a policy analyst with the AARP Public Policy Institute. Her work focuses on a wide variety of health-related issues, with an emphasis on public health, health disparities, and healthy behavior.

Tackling Prescription Drug Abuse among Older Adults

Prescription drug abuse is a serious and growing public health issue in the United States. While media attention and policy efforts often focus on younger populations, older adults are not immune to the problem. A new AARP Public Policy Institute report finds that while the prevalence of prescription drug misuse is higher among younger ages, it would be a mistake to overlook such behavior among older adults. Here’s why. First, a number of factors make older adults more susceptible to …

Addressing Disparities in Diabetes Prevalence Among Older Adults

Did you know? Diabetes rates are significantly higher among Americans age 65 and older than in any other age group. Nearly a quarter (23 percent) of Americans 65 and older reported having diagnosed diabetes in 2015, according to a recent AARP Public Policy Institute analysis. Diabetes, a chronic condition in which the body is unable to produce or use insulin efficiently, leads to higher-than-normal blood sugar levels and is associated with higher risk for obesity and cardiovascular disease. Long-term complications …

New Nutrition Facts Label: What’s in It for Older Adults?

Since the passage of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990, Nutrition Facts labeling has been mandatory for most packaged foods. The majority of food items sold in grocery stores are processed and packaged. Nutrition Facts labels provide consumers with the amount of calories and nutrients in these food items, which can help them make healthier choices. Now more than ever, Americans, especially older adults, are using Nutrition Facts labels when they shop for food. In May, the FDA …

Consumer Voices Matter: Meaningful Engagement of Consumers and Caregivers in Long-Term Care

Patient-centered care is responsive to the needs and values of the individuals receiving care, and is one aspect of a high-performing, high-quality health care system. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently issued a final rule that gives Medicaid managed care consumers and their family caregivers a seat at the table by requiring states to include consumer and family caregiver perspectives in the design, implementation and oversight of state-managed long-term services and supports (LTSS) programs. States should view the new …

Diabetes Prevention Program Shows Investing in Prevention Pays

Diabetes among older adults is associated with significant health and cost burdens. Nearly a quarter of individuals age 65 and older have been diagnosed with diabetes, and one of every three Medicare dollars is spent on beneficiaries living with the condition. An estimated one-half of the Medicare population is prediabetic, meaning their blood sugar levels are high but not high enough to warrant a diabetes diagnosis. To address this growing public health concern, in 2011 the Centers for Medicare & …

Striking Disparities in Food Insecurity Rates Among Older Adults

Nearly 8 percent of adults age 65 and older are food insecure, meaning they do not always have balanced meals or enough to eat because they cannot afford it. However, there are significant racial and ethnic disparities in food insecurity among older adults. Black and Hispanic seniors are over three times more likely to experience food insecurity than their white and Asian counterparts. In fact, nearly 1 in 5 black seniors are food insecure, compared to about 1 in 18 …