Did you know the next generation of seniors is predicted to have 25 percent higher prevalence of obesity and 55 percent higher prevalence of diabetes? United Healthcare’s Dr. Karen Cassidy joined us on a recent episode of Community Health Matters to discuss important findings from America’s Health Rankings and its 2016 Senior Report, and how we can use them to take small steps toward better health. View her interview here.

America’s Health Rankings is the longest-running annual assessment of the nation’s health on a state-by-state basis. It is an actionable report that gives a holistic view of the nation and allows each state to see areas of opportunity for improving the health of its citizens. America’s Health Rankings is the result of a partnership between the United Health Foundation and other organizations.
The Senior Report focuses on the health of older Americans – and serves to drive individuals and organizations to take action to improve senior health. It analyzes 35 individual measures of health, such as smoking rates, prevalence of diabetes, obesity rates, availability of physicians, food insecurity and flu vaccination coverage.

Tennessee’s overall rank for 2016 is 43 out of the 50 states, which is an improvement of one place compared to last year’s senior health rankings. The report also illuminates many Tennessee-specific measures where our state excels and where it needs to improve.

The positive:

  • Low prevalence of excessive drinking (No. 1 in the nation)
  • A significant improvement in the obesity rate of our seniors (No. 5 in the nation, up from No. 34 last year)
  • High vaccination coverage (No. 6)

The negative:

  • High prevalence of smoking (No. 49)
  • High prevalence of frequent mental distress (No. 49)
  • High rate of food insecurity (No. 46) and limited availability of home-delivered meals (No. 48)

Looking to the future, this year’s Senior Report examined middle-aged Americans who will become seniors over the next 14 years and how their health challenges will impact our future senior population. In comparing today’s middle-aged population to their peers of 1999, it revealed the senior population of 2030 will:

  • Smoke 50% less
  • Have 54% increased prevalence of diabetes; and
  • 25% increased prevalence of obesity

Based on these finding, the report shows us we need to focus on weight by eating balanced, nutritious diets and being as physically active as possible. There is a direct correlation between preventable chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity and certain types of cancer. Also, we need to create a sense of community for our seniors to combat the growing prevalence of mental health issues.

If you would like to view the America’s Health Rankings reports in their entirety, visit AmericasHealthRankings.org. If you’re looking for a great resource for improving the health of yourself and your family, visit the state’s Healthier Tennessee website at HealthierTN.com.

Did you know the next generation of seniors is predicted to have 25% higher prevalence of obesity? Dr. Karen Cassidy from UnitedHealthcare is here to explain how Tennessee fared in the 2016 Americas Health Rankings Senior Report and how we can start living a healthier lifestyle, today.

Obesity in Seniors

Our second guest for episode 19 of CHM is Dr. Karen Cassidy from UnitedHealthcare, discussing how Tennessee fared in the 2016 AHR Rankings Senior Report.

Youth Substance Abuse

Conversations are among the most powerful tools parents can use to protect their kids. But, tackling a topic like drugs or alcohol is difficult. Reginia Guess, a student assistance program counselor with Students Taking a Right Stand (STARS), joined us on a recent episode of Community Health Matters to discuss how the organization works to prevent youth substance abuse. View her interview here.

STARS is an evidence-based program to address social and emotional barriers for youth. Counselors work on-site in schools in six middle Tennessee counties throughout the school year to provide education, early intervention and counseling, and to help link students and families to services in the community. And, there are no fees associated with program services!
Youth who need help may seek it out for themselves, or they may be identified as being at risk by school administrators, teachers, peers, family members or guardians. Warning signs that a youth may be abusing substances include:

  • Unexplained changes in personality, attitude or appearance
  • Sudden mood changes, anger, agitation
  • Skipping classes, declining grades, getting in trouble at school
  • Acting isolated or withdrawn
  • Missing money, valuables or prescription drugs from the home

These problems can accumulate due to anxiety, self-regulation of emotions, the availability of prescription drugs in the home, peer pressure and more.

STARS combats these issues by building on the strengths of the child and family, promoting protective factors, fostering resilience and reducing risk factors. As a visible presence in schools, STARS counselors form collaborate relationships with school counselors and administrators. The typical positive outcomes of students in the program include increased attendance, improved grades, greater attachment to the community and a general step towards a healthier life.
To contact a STARS counselor, visit starsnashville.org or call 615-279-0058. If you are concerned for your child, you may also call the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids helpline at 1-855-DRUGFREE or access its parent toolkit at DrugFree.org.

Conversations are one of the most powerful tools parents can use to protect their kids. Reginia Guess from Stars Nashville is here to talk about how to identify and address youth substance abuse.

Youth Substance Abuse

Our third and final guest on this episode of Community Health Matters is Reginia Guess from STARS Nashville to talk about how to identify and address youth substance abuse.

Male Breast Cancer

Did you know breast cancer in men is rare, but does happen? Breast cancer survivor and author Dr. Wayne Dornan joined us on a recent episode of Community Healthy Matters to discuss what you need to know about male breast cancer. View his interview here.

At the time of Dr. Dornan’s diagnosis in 2008, he had no idea men could get breast cancer, too. Since, he has become a passionate advocate for both men and women with cancer and wrote his book “How I Survived Breast Cancer: An Inspirational Journey of Hope and Fact” to remedy the lack of information available particularly regarding breast cancer in men.
Though only one percent of all breast cancer cases in the U.S. occur in men, the American Cancer Society estimates 2,600 men will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and about 440 men will die from the disease this year.
In both men and women, diagnosis of breast cancer at an early stage is key. Most men aren’t aware they can get the disease so, by the time they seek medical attention, their stage is higher and their prognosis may be poor. Dr. Dornan points out that men have breasts, too, and if you have breasts, you can get breast cancer.
Men’s risk of breast cancer is so low that mammograms are not routinely recommended. That’s why it’s important to understand for men to understand their family history and the signs and symptoms of breast cancer. Just like women, men have an increased risk of developing breast cancer if they have a family history of the disease. Other symptoms include:

  • A lump or swelling, which is usually painless
  • Skin dimpling or puckering
  • Nipple retraction or inversion
  • Redness or scaling of the nipple or breast skin
  • Discharge from the nipple

Though breast cancer is a frightening diagnosis, more individuals than ever are surviving the disease – it is certainly not a death sentence, as many fear. Thanks to advancements in medicine, there are many different medications and treatment options available.

Learn more about Dr. Dornan’s inspirational story of survival by visiting HowISurvivedBreastCancer.com.

Male breast cancer is rare, but it does happen. About 1% of all breast cancer cases in the U.S. occur in men.

Male Breast Cancer

Our first guest on this episode of Community Health Matters is Wayne Dornan, who will share his experience as a male breast cancer survivor. Male breast cancer is rare, but it does happen. About 1% of all breast cancer cases in the U.S. occur in men.

One in four American adults will experience a mental illness in their lifetime. Studies show that when a person has a mental illness coupled with a physical disorder, the combination seriously impacts the effects and treatments of each issue. Dr. Karen Rhea, chief medical officer of Centerstone, joined us on a recent episode of Community Healthy Matters to discuss the link between behavioral and physical health, and how integrated care works to treat both. View her interview here.

Of Tennessee’s approximately 6.2 million residents, close to 246,000 adults live with serious mental illness and about 66,000 children live with serious mental health conditions. Because these issues are so incredibly common, behavioral healthcare is growing in importance. Some of the more common disorders are clinical depression, bipolar disorder, dementia, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders.

The clinical field widely recognizes the relationship between mental and physical health disorders. For example, if a patient with a heart disease also has depression, the risk of serious disability or early death is substantially greater. Their chance of recovery is lower due to depression’s many symptoms, including increased sadness, decrease or increase of appetite, difficulty sleeping and higher risk of suicide.

Dr. Rhea discusses the importance of integrated care, which means treating physical health disorders and behavioral health issues at the same time. The integrated approach allows for increased and improved care, reduced costs due to efficiency, eliminated unnecessary treatments and improved overall patient health.

A common misconception is that people with mental health issues simply have to try harder or “get over it.” If your mental health issues are persistent and significant, you need treatment.

If you or someone you love is dealing with mental health issues, you should know you are not alone. Contact your physician or, if you are experiencing a mental health emergency, call Mobile Crisis Services at 855-CRISIS-1.

Learn more about mental health services in Tennessee at TN.gov/behavioral-health.