What a new AARP study says about aging Michiganders

Posted at 12:04 AM, Oct 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-05 00:04:52-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Michigan AARP chapter and Western Michigan University’s College of Health and Human Services have released a study profiling the disparities aging people face when attempting to get healthcare.

The study, titled ‘Disrupting Disparities: The Continuum of Care for Michiganders 50 and Older” looks at the many issues older adults face in their effort to get treated, many of them technological or transportation based.

“They often have to travel miles and miles to get to a doctor’s appointment and it would be so much more convenient – and make healthcare so much more accessible for those folks – to be able to contact a doctor or specialist via broadband or via computer,” said Mark Hornbeck, of AARP Michigan.

Tele-medicine, which connects doctors with their patients in the comfort of their homes, is increasingly becoming the preferred method of treatment for those who find it hard to travel, or simply don’t have a way to get to appointments.

“There are about a million-and-a-half households in Michigan that have no broadband access,” said Hornbeck, “and we’re worried about those folks as we get more and more into tele-medicine, having equitable or equal access to health care.”

According to the report, the percentage of Michigan residents age 65 and older, a number currently at 15%, will likely jump as high as 22% by 2050. Currently, 12% of Michiganders age 50 and older forgo healthcare because of the obstacles the study lays out, including lack of access to broadband, but also issues with translating or understanding treatment instructions, and getting transportation to and from appointments.

“They don’t go see the doctor when they should, they don’t get the necessary medications to address the healthcare issues and that’s just unacceptable,” said Hornbeck. “We need have to have a system that reaches everyone and that’s not happening right now.”

You can find the full text of the study here.