In these recent months, Floridians have faced our share of adversity and we are not out of the woods yet.
The fact of the matter is that life is a constant up and down. One day, the sun shines on your back; the next, a storm is on the horizon. People of a certain age understand this about life, and we rely on them to share this wisdom down the generations. This wisdom is just one of the reasons we revere and protect our elders.
The COVID-19 crisis that swept through our nursing homes and continues to put every older American at risk shows that we have work to do – as a nation and a state – to serve this population better.
America’s seniors may flock to our sunshine, but there are some troubling statistics we must stare into. Florida ranks last in the per capita number of home health care workers assisting adults aged 75 and older. Nearly one in 10 seniors report skipping meals or going days without eating. There has been a recent and troubling increase in depression among adults 65 and up. This year alone, an estimated 50,000 Floridians will die of cancer.
Each of these concerns requires comprehensive plans that address the problem from the right angles. This is even more pronounced when we think about cancer, which is perennially the second leading cause of death in our state and a complex and costly disease. However, we may be on the cusp of making a giant leap forward on one of the greatest challenges in cancer care – how to find it early.
There are some important facts to know about cancer. First is that the risk of getting it increases with age. Indeed, our seniors are most vulnerable. Second is that if you catch it early enough—before it spreads throughout the body – you have a near 90 percent chance of survival for the next five years. Miss the window and this drops to 21 percent. What this means, of course, is check-ups and early screenings like colonoscopies and mammograms, are of life-and-death importance. Yet, this is another way the elderly suffer – a lack of available support can hamper screening and detection. To make matters worse, for all the good early screenings can and will continue to do, cancers with routine screening tests account for just 29 percent of all cancer deaths. To bring it back to our state, this year, seven of the top 10 causes of cancer deaths in Florida have no recommended screening.
Continue reading at Pensacola News Journal.