1. Wolverine Caucus Sheds Light on Healthy Aging in Michigan: Key Findings from the New Michigan Poll on Healthy Aging

    Mark Rivett posted June 20, 2024

    Wolverine Caucus, in collaboration with the Institute for Healthcare Policy & Innovation, convened on June 18 to discuss the Michigan Poll on Healthy Aging. The event brought together experts, policymakers, and community stakeholders to explore critical issues facing Michigan’s aging population.

    Started in May 2024, the Michigan Poll on Healthy Aging–a collaboration with IHPI and supported by the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, AARP and Michigan Medicine–taps into the perspectives of Michiganders age 50 and older on a wide range of health-related topics. The poll grew out of, and uses the same infrastructure as, the National Poll on Healthy Aging.

    Neel Hajra, chief executive officer of the Health Endowment Fund, opened the event with remarks emphasizing the importance of addressing the needs of older adults in Michigan.

    The event also featured an insightful presentation by Jeff Kullgren, director of the National Poll on Healthy Aging and Erica Solway, deputy director of the National Poll on Healthy Aging . Kullgren and Solway shared key findings from the new Michigan Poll on Healthy Aging, aiming to advance healthy aging initiatives and influence legislative action in the state.

    The Michigan Poll on Healthy Aging revealed health-related costs are a significant concern for older Michiganders. The top three health-related issues identified were:

    • Cost of medical care: 56%
    • Cost of home care, assisted living, or nursing home care: 55%
    • Cost of prescription medications: 54%

    Women who participated in the poll were particularly concerned about the cost of home care, with 61% expressing high concern compared to 50% of men.

    Financial scams and fraud emerged as the top concern among aging Americans. The Michigan poll found that in the past two years, among adults age 50-80, 69% said they experienced a scam attempt online or by phone, text, email or mail. Thirty-one percent reported experiencing fraud, including having their credit card or bank account compromised, other accounts hacked, lost money or had their identity stolen.

    The National Poll on Healthy Aging highlighted a significant need for increased awareness about available services for the state’s aging population and those that are responsible for their care. Many respondents were unaware of key resources such as Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) and State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs). While older Michiganders were more likely than their national peers to have heard of these programs, the awareness was still lacking:

    • 55% of older Michiganders did not know about AAAs.
    • 68% were unaware of SHIP or the Michigan Medicare Assistance Program (MMAP).

    Despite this, the percentage of individuals who had actually used these services was similar in Michigan and nationwide.

    Moving Forward

    The Wolverine Caucus event underscored the necessity of targeted efforts to raise awareness and improve access to vital services for older adults and their caregivers. As many of these programs are supported by state and federal tax dollars, increasing awareness could significantly enhance the quality of life for Michigan’s aging population.

    The event successfully facilitated a dialogue among key stakeholders, setting the stage for future initiatives aimed at addressing these pressing concerns. The insights shared by Kullgren and Solway will inform ongoing efforts to develop policies and programs that support healthy aging in Michigan.