South Carolinians feel healthy about 70 percent of their elderly years

jholleman@thestate.comJuly 19, 2013 

20061016 Healthy boomers

MARKSTEIN — Gary Markstein/MCT

— If South Carolinians make it to age 65, they can expect to live another 18.5 years and feel healthy for 12.9 of those years.

Those are the findings of a new report on Healthy Life Expectancy released this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report was designed as a baseline for the country and for individual states to use to identify trends and plan health care programs.

In South Carolina, as in almost every other state and the District of Columbia, women live longer and feel healthy longer than men, and whites live longer and feel healthy longer than African-Americans.

The state fared poorly compared to other states – though actually slightly better than it does in many health rankings. South Carolinians ranked 39th – ahead of neighbors Georgia and North Carolina.

South Carolinians who reach 65 will feel healthy for 69.7 percent of their remaining years, according to the poll used in the study. The telephone poll used in the study asked people to characterize their health as excellent, very good, good, fair or poor. Those who said excellent, very good or good were considered healthy.

The longest-living folks in the study were in Hawaii (living 21.3 years after 65), though Vermont has a slightly higher percentage of healthy years after 65 (78.2).

These sorts of statistics also will be used to determine if states are reducing racial disparities in health. South Carolina health care leaders will try to cut the gap between white elderly (18.8 years after 65, 13.7 healthy years after 65) and black elderly (17.2 years after 65, 9.8 healthy years after 65). Whites in the state are healthy 73.2 of their elderly years, while blacks are healthy only 57 percent of theirs.

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