The Well-Being Journal

Inaugural Older Americans Report Looks at Well-Being Among Those Over the Age of 55

Madison Agee

The growing percentage of the American population oolder-americans-cover-thumbver the age of 55 — a trend largely driven by the Baby Boomers entering later life — has important implications for a variety of stakeholders, including families, employers, healthcare providers and policymakers. Greater insight into the well-being of these older Americans is now available with the release of an inaugural report based on data from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index®.


The report, “State of American Well-Being: State Well-Being Rankings for Older Americans”, examines the comparative well-being of Americans age 55 and older, and reveals that, nationally, adults 55 and older have higher well-being than the rest of the population. The report also ranks the well-being of these older adults in all 50 states.

Older Americans have the highest well-being in the state of Hawaii, followed by Montana, South Dakota, Alaska and Iowa. Well-being for adults age 55 and older is lowest in West Virginia. The other states with low well-being for older adults are Kentucky, Oklahoma, Ohio and Indiana. You can read more about the rankings here and download a copy of the report here

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index uses a holistic definition of well-being and self-reported data from individuals across the globe to create a unique view of societies’ progress on the elements that matter most to well-being: purpose, social, financial, community and physical. It is the most proven, mature and comprehensive measure of well-being in populations. Previous Gallup and Healthways research shows that high well-being closely relates to key health outcomes such as lower rates of healthcare utilization, lower workplace absenteeism and better workplace performance, change in obesity status and new onset disease burden.

To discover where other states — including yours — fall within the rankings, download a copy of the report today. You can also subscribe to content from the Well-Being Index; by subscribing, we’ll let you know when we release new reports and insights from the Well-Being Index.
Topics: Aging Seniors Well-Being Index

The Changing Face of the Caregiver

Sophie Leveque

Historically, when older loved ones were in need of caregiving, they didn’t have to look very far. There was usually a close family member who could easily step into the role. But, over the last several decades, much has changed when it comes to who fulfills the role of caregiver. It’s no longer a given that a dutiful daughter will take on caregiving responsibilities for an aging parent, a shifting tide that can be attributed to a combination of demographic and cultural changes. These changes are also having a profound impact on the caregiver experience.

Some of these shifts include:

  • Shrinking average family size. Fewer children means a smaller pool of caregivers from which to draw. From the caregiver perspective, there are fewer relatives with whom to share responsibilities or turn to when more intervention is needed.

  • Geographic distance. Nowadays, people are more open to moving away from their hometowns for educational, career and personal reasons, often leaving behind their parents and loved ones. This means that older adults don’t have immediate, local assistance, and that their children or younger relatives may often be providing care remotely.
     
  • Evolving cultural attitudes. Traditional expectations around the duty of younger generations for caring for their older relatives are changing. For example, some cultural traditions dictated that older parents move in with their adult-aged children, but shifting norms may have mitigated some of these cultural pressures. 

  • Employment trends. Historically, daughters whose own children were grown may have assumed the caregiving mantle, but as more women have joined the formal workforce, it has become more difficult for them to take on caregiving responsibilities.

  • More single-person households. If an adult child or loved one becomes a caregiver, there is not always someone within their own household who can “pick up the slack” and tend to normal family and household management.

  • Parents having children later in life. With the age gap widening between generations, modern caregivers may have more non-caregiving responsibilities they have may have had historically. They may be in a stage where their careers need a great deal of attention, may have young children of their own, or may still be finishing school.

  • Longer life expectancies. With advancements in medicine, caregiving is no longer the temporary arrangement it may have once been. Older adults may require more care for longer periods of time.
In a recent Healthways webinar on the relationship between caregiving and well-being, Joe Coughlin of the MIT AgeLab discussed these changing demographic and cultural trends in detail. According to Coughlin, the data suggests that these shifts will only become more marked over time, which, in turn, will only make caregiving more complex.

Infographic provided by Respect a Caregiver's Time (REAct).
Caregiver_Journey_Infographic

Coughlin discussed some fascinating insights into the changing face of the modern caregiver. As he noted, in this new age of caregiving, the caregiver can be anyone: sons, daughters, spouses, friends, or siblings. That said, studies have shown that the responsibility for giving care usually—as it has historically— falls to women. These women are typically the spouse or oldest daughter of the individual needing care and are between the ages of 47 and 57.

But unlike the stereotypical caregiver—who never participated in the formal economy or is retired—we also know that modern day caregivers are often employed. Data from the 2014 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index® tells us that 13.4 percent of caregivers are full-time employees. And while traditionally caregivers have been middle-aged, Coughlin reports that today’s caregivers may be in a younger age category. As we discussed earlier, with caregivers skewing younger, they’re often working as well. In fact, the Well-Being Index tells us that nearly one in 10 full-time employees under the age of 45 is a caregiver.

As a result, today’s caregivers are often juggling the care of their aging loved ones, which for 25 percent of American families consumes more than 21 hours a week, with workplace responsibilities and their own families (see infographic). As Coughlin explored in our webinar, these multiple time and energy demands can have a dramatic effect on individual well-being, a topic we’re going to address in an upcoming article.

To learn more about shifting demographics around caregiving, as well as its link to well-being, please view our recent webinar, “The Costs of Caring: The Impact of Caregiving on your Population’s Well-Being". Our team of panelists also discussed several strategies for supporting caregivers in your organization.

 

Topics: Well-Being Aging Caregiving

Panama Leads the World Again in Overall Well-Being, as Revealed in New Report

Madison Agee

2014-Country-Rankings-ThumbNew country rankings from the Gallup-Healthways Global Well-Being Index show that, for the second time since last year’s inaugural report, Panama has the highest overall well-being in the world. The new report, “2014 Country Well-Being Rankings Report”, ranks 145 countries and areas based on the percentages of their residents that are thriving in three or more well-being elements.

The Americas have a strong presence in the ten countries with the world’s highest overall well-being, with seven countries on the list. After Panama, rounding out the top ten are Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Switzerland, Belize, Chile, Denmark, Guatemala, Austria and Mexico.

The five countries with the lowest levels of well-being are Tunisia, Togo, Cameroon, Bhutan and Afghanistan. In fact, in Afghanistan, no residents are thriving in three or more well-being elements, and none is thriving in purpose, social or financial well-being. 

Globally, higher well-being has been associated with outcomes indicative of stability and resilience — for example, healthcare utilization, intent to migrate, trust in elections and local institutions, daily stress, food/shelter security, volunteerism, and willingness to help others. 

The Gallup-Healthways Global Well-Being Index uses a holistic definition of well-being and self-reported data from individuals across the globe to create a unique view of societies’ progress on the elements that matter most to well-being: purpose, social, financial, community and physical. It is the most proven, mature and comprehensive measure of well-being in populations.

To see where other countries around the world fall within the rankings, download a copy of the report today. You can also subscribe to content from the Well-Being Index; by subscribing, we’ll let you know when we release new reports and insights from the Well-Being Index.
Topics: Well-Being Well-Being Index Global Report

Healthways Board Member Responds to EEOC’s Proposed Rule on Wellness Programs

Madison Agee

Bill_Novelli
Bill Novelli

In April of this year, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released a proposed rule and additional guidance regarding corporate wellness programs, addressing how these programs can better comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Specifically, the EEOC suggests that employers may need to revise their programs’ financial incentives, data privacy standards and enrollment practices.

In an article published last week on the website Morning Consult, Bill Novelli, professor in the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University and Healthways board member, offered his opinion on the EEOC’s proposed rule and the resulting complexities it will create for companies. Entitled “Government Should Promote Wellness, Not Impede It,” the article suggests that the additional regulation of corporate wellness programs created by the EEOC’s new rule could be counter-productive to making a positive impact on key healthcare issues such as rising rates of chronic illness and obesity. Novelli asserts that the new restrictions proposed by the EEOC will make it harder for companies to implement and sustain successful wellness programs.

According to Novelli, the new rule and guidance undermine the collaboration between business and government that is necessary to truly move the needle on the state of health within the United States. To learn more, read the full article here.

Topics: Wellness Program Legal EEOC