Many Americans aged 65 and older are not receiving what could be lifesaving preventive health services, says a report by several US Department of Health and Human Services agencies.

Too few seniors are getting recommended vaccinations for influenza and pneumococcal disease, including bloodstream infections, meningitis and pneumonia; help with quitting smoking; or screenings for breast cancer, colorectal cancer, diabetes, high cholesterol and osteoporosis, according to the report.

"Millions of Americans are not getting proven clinical preventive services that we know can prevent disease and improve quality of life," study author Lynda Anderson, director of the Healthy Aging Program at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a CDC news release.

"This report takes stock of current levels of recommended services by older adults, and it becomes obvious that many of these services are woefully underutilized," she added.


Each day, about 10,000 Americans turn 65. By 2030, about one in five Americans will be 65 or older. The authors said their report highlights the need to promote preventive services for older people, especially among minorities.

Awareness Is The Key

Many older adults may not be aware of the preventive services recommended for their age group or may not know that the services are covered by Medicare, the report suggested.

The report lists ways to increase the use of preventive services in underserved communities, including increasing awareness through media and providing services in convenient community settings, such as providing flu shots at polling stations on election days.

"If we can help patients age 65 and older get the recommended preventive screenings and regular immunizations, we could significantly reduce unnecessary illness," Dr. Edward Langston, an American Medical Association board member, said in the news release.

Further Recommendations For Seniors

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend the following services in addition to the vaccinations and screenings for early detection of cancer, high cholesterol, diabetes and osteoporosis mentioned in the above report…

  • Alcohol abuse counseling
  • Blood pressure screening
  • Cervical cancer screening
  • Depression screening and counseling
  • Obesity screening and counseling
  • Zoster vaccination

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