Michigan is a leader in the movement to create a more age-friendly public health system by creating partnerships throughout the health and public health sectors within the state. In October 2022, over 120 aging and health leaders and innovators gathered at Michigan State University for the state’s first-ever Strategically Partnering for Age-Friendly Health in Michigan Conference to collaborate on a shared vision to advance age-friendly policies and practices across the state.
The conference, jointly hosted by The Michigan Health Endowment Fund, Michigan Public Health Institute, and Trust for America’s Health, emphasized the need for age-friendly policies to benefit everyone, not just older adults, due to their focus on the social conditions that support optimal health.
One of the key themes of the conference was the importance of integrating age-friendly principles into the ecosystem of society and information sharing across care delivery, between hospitals and home care providers, for example. Dr. Aaron Guest, a national leader in aging and public health, spoke on the connections between social determinants of health and healthy aging, and the importance of creating an age-friendly environment that addresses the social and economic factors that promote good health and well-being.
Structural racism and health disparities were also discussed as significant obstacles to ensuring equitable access to care and culturally responsive, age-friendly care. Black older adults in Michigan experience lower rates of health insurance coverage and greater rates of chronic health conditions compared to their white counterparts. Furthermore, the Detroit Area Agency on Aging found that the death rate of Detroit adults in their 50s is 122 percent higher than the rest of the state.
Overall, the conference sought to chart the course for an age-friendly future within the state, acknowledging the challenges ahead but also the progress made, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic’s disproportionate impact on communities of color and older adults illustrates the importance of addressing the upstream social determinants of health and integrating age-friendly policies into public health systems.
TFAH is proudly committed to a continued partnership with the Michigan Public Health Institute and will continue to help support Michigan’s Age Friendly Public Health System initiative in the future.
This article is based on the Age-Friendly Conference Envisions as Interconnected Michigan blog, published by the Michigan Health Endowment Fund.
Read more on TFAH’s Age Friendly Public Health Systems and Age Friendly Public Health Systems Initiative Page.
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