The Older Adult Health Care Experience – Doctors Fall Short in Helping Many Seniors – Poll Results

April 28, 2012

Large numbers of seniors are not receiving recommended interventions that could help forestall medical problems and improve their health, according to a new survey from the John A. Hartford Foundation. The survey results were released on April 24. Large majorities of older Americans experience significant and troubling gaps in their primary care, according to this new national survey.

Older Adult Health Survey

The poll focuses exclusively on Americans age 65 and older and assesses whether, in the past 12 months, patients received seven important medical services to support healthy aging, including:

  • an annual medication review,
  • a falls risk assessment and history,
  • depression screening,
  • referral to community-based health resources, and
  • discussion of their ability to perform routine daily tasks and activities without help.

The poll also explored older adults’ satisfaction with their care (high), their awareness of available health benefits (low), and their views on whether more geriatrics education is important and would improve health care (yes). We have a variety of materials available to help you learn more about the poll, conducted by Lake Research Partners from February 29, 2012, through March 3, 2012, among 1,028 adults age 65 and older.

Falls cause over 2 million injuries in people age 65 and older annually, but more than two-thirds of the time doctors and nurses didn’t ask older patients whether they’d taken a tumble or provide advice about how to avoid tripping on carpets or slipping on the stairs, the Hartford poll found.

Only 2.3 million seniors out of a total 35 million with traditional Medicare coverage took advantage of wellness visits last year, according to government data.  Medicare pays doctors about three times their ordinary office visit rate for asking about older adults’ ability to function, evaluating their mood, recommending preventive services, and connecting them with community resources during wellness visits.

This link can be used to view and download the “How Does It Feel? The Older Adult Health Care Experience,” poll results summary. A webinar presentation on the national survey preview is available on the foundation website.

The mission of the Hartford Foundation is to improve the health of older adults.  Its survey, released Tuesday, asked 1,028 people age 65 and older between February 29 and March 3 about their experiences with care. The study was conducted online by Lake Research Partners and had a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points.


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