Healthy Aging Coalition

The Healthy Aging Coalition is a committee of concerned Wyoming citizens identifying ways to manage and address problems concerning Wyoming’s aging population. The committee chair is Dr. Virginia Vincetti, Professor Emeritus, Human Development & Family Sciences, University of Wyoming.

The committee’s primary purpose has been to bring together representatives from diverse groups to strengthen collaboration and support the effort to get the WY Healthy Aging Database (HADR) funded. Now, its purpose is to use data gathered in the form of the HADR to strategize and organize relevant people to address the problems illuminated in different counties and ensure that decisions being made about Wyoming’s senior population are as effecive as possible.

Why a Healthy Aging Data Report?

Thanks to gains in human longevity and the aging of the baby boom cohort the United States is in the midst of a demographic transformation. In 1900 life expectancy was around 47. Today, however, most of us can expect to live longer, healthier lives compared to people alive a century ago. Yet the systems, policies, and resources that allow all of us to thrive are not in place, making it difficult for people to experience health, dignity, and social connections as they age.

The older population is growing, and this growth will continue. Projections suggest this will be a permanent change. In the U.S., one out of five Americans will be age 65+ by 2030, and by 2034, the 65+ population will outnumber the under 18 population (U.S. Census Bureau). This widespread longevity presents opportunities for growth and service. Yet, Wyoming may miss the economic benefits of an aging population without a clear understanding of where older adults are living, and what strengths and challenges they experience.

What is the Wyoming Healthy Aging Data Report?

The 2023 Wyoming Healthy Aging Data Report (HADR) is an easy-to-use resource created by researchers at the Gerontology Institute of the University of Massachusetts Boston in partnership with the Wyoming Healthy Aging Coalition (HAC) and coordinated by Professor Emeritus Virginia B. Vincenti, PhD, CFCS, at the University of Wyoming, vincenti@uwyo.edu. The data report includes 23 county profiles, each with 130 healthy aging indicators and 130 maps with alphabetical and ranked lists of indicators by county. For the past decade similar reports have been prepared in New England states and in Mississippi to provide data to inform efforts to create healthy, age-friendly communities (see healthyagingdatareports.org). When communities work better for older people, they work better for everyone.

The 130 indicators provide a comprehensive picture of the health of older adults in Wyoming. The full list of indicators and data sources appears in the Technical Documentation. The Wyoming data reveal important patterns of disease, health behaviors, resource distribution, and disparities in healthy aging. The extent to which health variations differ by location are mapped to support intervention and policy efforts addressing the unique issues facing older people in Wyoming counties.

The research team has spent years acquiring and analyzing data to create HADRs for several states, supporting groups such as the WY HAC made up of community members and leaders from a wide range of non-profits, agencies, academics, and some policymakers, that have developed tools to inform communities about ways to make it easier for everyone to achieve their own, unique optimal health. The tools in this report can be used to inform policy, improve programs and services, and spur collective action to make Wyoming a truly age-friendly and healthier state. Research funding was provided by the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station (USDA NIFA funding) and the University of Wyoming College of Agriculture, Life Sciences, & Natural Resources. Note that this work is a first step in building the Wyoming Integrated Statistical Environment (WISE), an innovative interactive online datahub that will deliver timely information for Wyoming decision makers at the county, ZIP, and census place levels. Once WISE is deployed users will be able to select and map variables of interest across a variety of topics and easily download their selections for further analysis to guide their decision making. To learn more about WISE contact professor Anders T. Van Sandt at avansand@uwyo.edu. If you have questions or ideas about this report, please email them to beth.dugan@umb.edu. We welcome your input! Your ideas may help make our next Healthy Aging Data Report even better.

Healthy Aging Data Report:

Among the 130 variables being offered by the Health Aging Data Report for each county are:

  • Age Distribution
  • Population Age 60 and older
  • Population Age 65 and older as a % of population
  • Race and ethnicity
  • Marital Status
  • Education of Population 65+
  • COVID cases all ages and 65+
  • Wellness information such as age 60+ getting the recommended sleep
  • Age 60+ doing any physical activity
  • Age 60+ in fair or bad health
  • Age 60+ who fell in the last year
  • Age 60 + with a preventative exam in the last year
  • Age 60+ with screenings for cancer, HIV test, or vaccines for Pneumonia or shingles
  • Age 60+ stressed about buying food
  • Age 60+ self-report obese
  • Age 65+ with chronic disease from Alzheimer’s ro diabetes, or have had a heart attack, cancer, arthritis, stroke, etc.
  • Age 60+ with access to care, a regular doctor and number of clinics, hospitals, and nursing homes in their area.
  • Age 60+ with access to mental health supports, dental exams, loss of 6 or more teeth.
  • Age 65+ with self reported heating difficulty, cognition difficulty, ambulatory difficulty, self-care difficulty.
  • Age 65+ receiving food benefits, annual income, home ownership