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

Bringing the Promise of Well-Being to New Markets

Madison Agee

Once upon a time, if you thought about a person pursuing “well-being,” that may have generated a certain image in your mind: someone who has lots of disposable income, shops at Whole Foods, lives in a suburban community conducive to outdoor exercise, attends exclusive yoga classes in expensive workout wear, is likely under the age of 50 … and so on. Insight from the recent Healthways 2014 Well-Being Summit indicates that this image is rapidly changing.

At the Summit, the founders of Feel Rich, Quincy Jones III and Shawn Ullman, discussed their company’s mission to bring the message of better well-being to minority and urban communities. These markets have historically been underserved with authentic, connected messaging that educates and excites them about taking steps to improve their well-being.

To achieve their mission, the two entrepreneurs utilize engaging multimedia content delivered by hip-hop artists who are considered trustworthy messengers of change. These artists – many of whom are committed to healthy lifestyles (did you know the rapper Common is a vegan fitness enthusiast?) – promote better well-being to the African-American and Latino markets through relatable imagery and authentic language.

Jones and Ullman’s approach also allows well-being brands that are looking to gain entrance into or further penetrate these markets to connect to their target consumers in a more genuine way. For example, they spearheaded the Johnson & Johnson “Text4Baby” campaign, which provided expecting and new mothers with health advice and information for both themselves and their babies. The mothers were inspired to receive the texts with a promise of a personal lullaby for their new baby sung by actor-model-musical artist Tyrese.

Older adults, too, are tuning in to well-being in growing numbers. Joseph Coughlin of the MIT AgeLab provided the Well-Being Summit audience with an interesting overview of some of the demographics and trends of this expanding population. Generally speaking, this market:

  • Considers itself ill, but not sick — e.g., “I may have high blood pressure, but I’m doing just fine”
  • Has at least some college education
  • Values having health and ability and freedom to still live active lives
  • Is skeptical of information, preferring testimonials and advice from others like them
  • Is committed to working or required to work as long as they can — 40 percent plan to “work until they drop”
  • Is overloaded by information, which is often contradictory
  • Is relatively isolated — 30 percent of people 60+ live alone, and 70 percent of 50+ live in rural areas

Coughlin pointed out that traditional methods of delivering a well-being message to seniors, which are predicated on facts, fear and a prescriptive “this is what’s good for you” approach, don’t work. Instead, organizations and brands trying to reach this demographic should use a more fun, social-oriented framework that:

  • Leverages social networks
  • Speaks in terms of solutions, not just data
  • Encourages life performance instead of illness management
  • Is personal and authentic
  • Is constructed to enable a longer life span versus getting a senior through this life stage

Connecting with these two “non-traditional” markets for well-being products and services – urban/minority and seniors – requires that brands take a new approach. In both instances, authenticity and social engagement are critically important.

Topics: Well-Being Aging Seniors Consumers urban Well-Being Summit Minorities

Attract Today’s Seniors and Impact Star Ratings

Jennifer Rudloff

Senior Couple on ScooterIn America, more and more people are living into their 80’s, 90’s and beyond. Each day over the next 18 years, 8,000 baby boomers join a population of seniors age 65+ that’s already larger than it’s ever been. And out of this growth, a new kind of senior is born. Gone are the images of rocking chairs and knitting needles. Today’s senior is tech savvy, uses a computer regularly, and seeks information from online sources. This shift in population demographics represents a huge opportunity for those serving this population.

With star ratings raising the profile of quality measure, Medicare Advantage plans can gain a competitive advantage with strategies that recognize the importance and value of proactive health support. Healthways can help. Our proven Senior Well-Being Improvement Solution takes a multifaceted approach to keeping the healthy healthy and managing chronic conditions. Designed to immediately impact star ratings, our senior solution includes the following:

  • Healthways CMS-approved Senior Well-Being Assessment (WBA) explores challenges specific to seniors, and delivers an insightful view of member health history, status, social and emotional health, and health related behaviors.
  • Personalized Well-Being Plans are generated using data from the Senior WBA; plans recommend behaviors for improvement and relevant action steps for individual health risks.
  • Guided online improvement is delivered via Well-Being Connect, an easy to use online tool designed to impact behaviors that directly influence star ratings like self-management, appointment adherence, healthy eating, and weight management.
  • Innergy™ and QuitNet® address obesity and tobacco use, two of the biggest risks for health care and costs, and provide targeted support to at-risk individuals as identified by the Senior WBA.
  • Senior focused telephonic health coaching provides support to drive risk reduction, behavior change, long-term health care savings, and star ratings gains for high-risk seniors.

And when it comes to engagement, we’ll do the legwork for you. Our solution includes built in engagement support from our award-winning marketing engagement team. Our fully developed, easily customized communications campaign drives initial and ongoing participation.

To learn more more about how we can help you drive star ratings and gain competitive advantage, visit our solutions page and choose Medicare/Senior Specific Support, or contact us today.

Topics: CMS Healthcare Seniors Star Ratings Prevention Healthways Medicare Advantage

It's never too late to start exercising

Jennifer Rudloff

Physical activity is important to people of all ages - it helps us control weight, combat health conditions and diseases, improves mood, boosts energy, and promotes better sleep. It also helps to combat aging by improving strength, flexibility, balance and endurance which helps enable people to live happier, healthier, more independent lives. And when exercise becomes a social activity – it encourages new friendships, and adds an extra element of fun.

Well the seniors of Wheat Ridge have no shortage of friends to have fun with SilverSneakers® style. With more than 5,200 eligible Silver Sneakers members living within a five-mile radius, this community is invested in health. Learn more about this program, hear instructors talk about the program components, and get a sneak peak at some of the classes in action.

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Learn more about the benefits to exercise >>

Topics: Healthy Living Exercise Aging Fitness Seniors Prevention Silver Sneakers Healthways