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Methodology


 

Wellness Indicators

Weights*
Indicator
Methodology
Year
100 large
252 small
Medicare enrollment
Number enrolled in Medicare divided by population 65+
The highest value receives a score of 100
Data sources: Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
2010 0.068 0.108
Obesity rate
Per capita
The lowest value receives a score of 100
Data source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
2010 0.134 0.139
Obesity rate, population 65+***
The lowest value receives a score of 100
Data source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
2010 0.008 -
Smoking rate**
% of adults who smoke every day
The lowest value receives a score of 100
Data source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
2012 0.040 -
Smoking rate, population 65+***
% of adults 65 and older who currently smoke
The lowest value receives a score of 100
Data source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
2010 0.024 -
Diabetes rate
Normalized by composite score from average per capita and per population 65+ calculations
The lowest value receives a score of 100
Data source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
2010 0.050 0.080
Alzheimer's cases
Per population 65+
The lowest value receives a score of 100
Data sources: Alzheimer's Association, Milken Institute
2014 0.045 0.062
Number of caregivers
Normalized by composite score from average per capita and per population 65+ calculations
The highest value receives a score of 100
Data source: AARP
2009 0.031 0.060
Life expectancy at 65
Divided by corresponding U.S. value
The highest value receives a score of 100
Data sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Milken Institute
2010 0.122 0.164
% of seniors with frequent mental distress**
The lowest value receives a score of 100
Data source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
2010 0.054 -
% of seniors with no physical activity**
The lowest value receives a score of 100
Data source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
2010 0.064 -
Number of fitness and recreational sports centers
Per capita, NAICS code: 71394
The highest value receives a score of 100
Data source: Census Bureau
2011 0.092 0.101
Number of fast-food outlets
Per 1,000 population
The lowest value receives a score of 100
Data source: Department of Agriculture
2011 0.074 0.094
Sugary drink consumption
Consumption at home, gallons per capita
The lowest value receives a score of 100
Data source: Department of Agriculture
2010 0.054 0.084
Number of golf courses, ski resorts, marinas, bowling alleys, etc.
Normalized by composite score from average per capita and per population 65+ calculations,
NAICS codes: 71391, 71392, 71393, 71395
The highest value receives a score of 100
Data source: Census Bureau
2011 0.062 0.108
% of seniors who had a fall that resulted in injury***
The lowest value receives a score of 100
Data source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
2010 0.023 -
% of seniors consuming fruits and vegetables daily***
% of adults 65+ eating three or more vegetables and/or two or more fruits daily
The highest value receives a score of 100
Data source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
2011 0.053 -
* Figures may not add up to 1 due to rounding.
** Used only for large metros.
*** New indicator.

A healthy lifestyle is key to maintaining high quality of life, especially for older individuals. Exercising regularly, eating fruits and vegetables, and consuming drinks that contain less sugar are just a few examples of ways older adults can maintain their health, be less likely to suffer chronic disease, and enhance their overall well-being. In order to capture the latest data, we expanded our definition of soda consumption to "sugary drink consumption." This includes the consumption of non-alcoholic carbonated beverages (both diet and non-diet) and noncarbonated caloric beverages.

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables has been shown to reduce the risk of chronic disease and cancer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that adults age 65 and older eat more (five or more daily) fruits and vegetables than do other age groups. To capture healthy eating, we added an indicator that measures the percentage of adults 65 and older who eat at least two or more fruits daily and/or three or more vegetables daily.

Overall obesity rates can affect health outcomes of a metro area, but we also wanted to include obesity rates specifically for adults age 65 and older. Because of data limitations, we were only able to include this indicator for the top 100 large metros. Similarly, smoking rates have a great impact on the health and health-care costs of a metro area. Even though many older smokers have kicked the habit, the CDC reports that more than 8 percent of adults age 65 and older are still smoking nationwide. We have added an indicator, the percentage of adults age 65 and older who currently smoke, in order to capture smoking rates among older adults.

For older adults, falls can be quite dangerous and are reported as the leading cause of injury death. In fact, each year, one of three adults 65 and older suffers from a fall, and these falls can lead to hip fractures and head traumas. To address this concern, we included the percentage of adults age 65 and older who have a fall that results in injury for the top 100 large metros.

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