senior health

Humana’s President and CEO Bruce Broussard will discuss health care transformation and innovation at AHIP’s Medicare Conference in Washington, D.C., next week.

He’ll talk about the role health plans play in helping Medicare Advantage (MA) members achieve their best health, as well as offer his thoughts on the future of health care and the importance of integrated care.

He shared some of his thoughts ahead of the event, and you can read that Q&A here.

 

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The most highly rated TV programs feature frequent ageist language and under-representation of seniors and could have impacts on health, according to research from an ongoing partnership between Humana and the Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative at University of Southern California’s (USC) Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

Led by Stacy L. Smith, Ph.D., USC’s study analyzed 1,609 speaking characters in the most popular Nielsen-rated television shows that aired between June 1, 2016, and May 31, 2017, to determine how characters aged 60 and over are portrayed. In tandem, Humana conducted a quantitative survey of people aged 60 and over to explore their thoughts on aging, specifically to understand which attributes are directly linked to better health.

Both studies examined ageism, and the results indicate that it potentially has a negative impact not only on optimism, self-esteem and confidence, but also the physical and mental health of aging Americans.

The research also finds that among seniors who experience frequent ageism, optimists have far fewer unhealthy days, regardless of the amount of ageism they experience. This suggests one way to combat the negative impact of ageism is to be more optimistic.

A deeper analysis of the findings revealed:

Even in the highest-rated television programs, aging characters are underrepresented and stereotypically portrayed.

  • Only 9.4 percent of all speaking characters were 60 years of age or over – despite seniors representing 19.9 percent of the U.S. population, according to the 2015 U.S. Census.
  • Stereotypical, ageist language is prevalent in the shows. Some choice quotes include: “Things just sound creepier when you’re old,” and “You like the color? It’s called ‘ancient ivory,’ like you.”
  • Of shows featuring a main senior character, 41 percent contained one or more ageist comments. Of those series with ageist comments, 62.5 percent had remarks that came from characters speaking to a senior, while 68.8 percent contained self-deprecating dialogue delivered by seniors to themselves.
  • Shows without a writer or showrunner age 60 or over were more likely to feature ageism than shows with a writer or showrunner age 60 or over.

There are inherent consequences to these stereotyped portrayals of aging Americans – including a potentially negative impact on seniors’ sense of self-esteem, confidence and optimism, as well as their health.

  • Seniors who experience ageism once a week or more report having 4.6 more physically unhealthy days and 5.4 more mentally unhealthy days per month than respondents who rarely or never report experiencing ageism.
  • Seniors who experience ageism once a week or more reported that it had a moderately negative impact on their sense of self-esteem, confidence and optimism, scoring the impact of ageism on their self-esteem at nearly 6 on a 10-point scale.

Aging Americans who describe themselves as optimists feel better about their overall health and well-being, underscoring the importance of an optimistic mindset for healthy aging.

  • Among seniors who report experiencing frequent ageism (once a week or more), optimists have, on average, 4 fewer physical and 3 fewer mental unhealthy days each month.
  • And, of all survey respondents, those who rate themselves as most optimistic feel on average 12.5 years younger than their actual age.

“We’ve studied this in film, but the lack of senior representation and prevalence of ageism on the small screen counters the idea that TV is better than film,” said Stacy L. Smith, director of the Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative at USC’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism. “There’s obviously more work to be done in the entertainment industry—seniors are often left out of the conversation on inclusion. This study speaks to the need for increasing older storytellers behind the camera who can create more authentic senior characters on-screen.”

Dr. Yolangel Hernandez Suarez, vice president and chief medical officer of care delivery at Humana, added: “Understanding the social determinants of health is a key priority for Humana. That’s why we’re committed to advancing societal perceptions and promoting aging with optimism. Our survey and continued partnership with the University of Southern California demonstrate the power of an optimistic mindset for combating ageism and embracing healthy aging.”

Both Stacy L. Smith and Dr. Yolangel Hernandez Suarez will provide more insight on each respective study as panelists at The Atlantic Live! New Old Age conference in New York City, slated for October 2017.

Read the full news release here.

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Marketing well-being, by encouraging small but important lifestyle changes and promoting long-term goals, can be more difficult than just selling a product, according to Jody Bilney, Humana’s Chief Consumer Officer.

Jody recently wrote about her approach in an opinion piece on CMO.com.

“It’s tricky for health-care marketers because we are encouraging consumers to make certain decisions—such as small, healthier choices each day that add up—but the payoff for those decisions doesn’t come for years down the road and may be hard to trace back to their original decisions,” she wrote.

But she offered three strategies for making it work:

• Build trusting relationships between the brand and the consumer, showing them that you care and giving them the tools to succeed.

• Sustain that message over time, without being overbearing, so consumers “feel empowered to make small, sustainable healthy choices every day.”

• Be “patiently aggressive,” knowing that success will take time. “Smaller, repeatable actions create sustained changes. The only way we’ll achieve our long-term goals is to make health fun and easy so consumers make healthy choices over and over again.”

“In the end, individuals make their own decisions,” she wrote. “We have to be OK with knowing they won’t think about us when they take that once-in-a-lifetime trip to scale a mountain or chase their grandkids around at age 86 because their success is our success.”

Read the full article here.

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Summit Health and Humana have signed a new contract that provides in-network access for Humana Medicare members at Summit Health facilities and providers in south-central Pennsylvania.

The contract, which is effective Aug. 1, 2017, provides in-network access for Humana Medicare Advantage Health Maintenance Organization, Preferred Provider Organization, and Private Fee-for-Service health plan members seeking treatment at Summit Health facilities.

“We’re very pleased to expand our Pennsylvania Medicare provider network with Summit Health,” said Humana Regional Medicare President Rich Vollmer. “This means our Medicare Advantage members in south-central Pennsylvania will now have access to quality care from Summit Health’s medical facilities and its physicians.”

Read the full news release.

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The distinctive tune of the harmonica emits from the Humana community location on Western Avenue in Knoxville, Tennessee. It is followed by laughter. Both sounds are sweet to Talinda T. who attended the Harmonicas for Health class with her 81-year-old mom, Lovetta.

“Prior to this class, I would say that I was a very negative, critical person, and primarily because I didn’t accept where (my mom) was at this stage in her life,” Talinda shares in a video about Harmonicas for Health participants. “But to see her blossom, to see her having difficulties with breathing, able to play that harmonica, whether it was just a tune here or a tune there. It has changed me for the better so that I can better help her.”

As the video explains in more detail, Harmonicas for Health teaches two breathing techniques recommended by the COPD Foundation. COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is the third leading cause of death in the United States. More than 12 million people have been diagnosed with COPD, and the American Lung Association estimates more than 24 million adults have impaired lung function.

Earl S. has asthma. He took the no-cost Harmonicas for Health class to help him with his breathing, but also to be part of a community. “What I read is that … one key to longevity is to be part of a community, where people know your name, and if you don’t show up, they’ll ask about you. People in those kind of communities tend to live better and longer. That’s something I’m really interested in.”

Glenn Meyers, MD and medical director in Tennessee, concurs. “With Harmonicas for Health, (Humana) members who have emphysema can exercise, can lose weight, can feel better, get those endorphins up, feel healthier, and get back out into the community.”

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