Detroit's Elderly Dying Before Their Time

Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley says that the city's aging population is dying prematurely because of a shortage of nursing homes and affordable medical care.

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Rochelle Riley writes in her Detroit Free Press column that the city's aging population is dying before their time because of a shortage of nursing homes and affordable medical care.

Detroit, a city that once had 50 nursing homes, has lost 20 -- 16 of them in the past 13 years. And many are struggling to remain open. Nineteen Detroit nursing homes must upgrade or install sprinkler systems by next summer to be certified and continue to receive the government funding they need to stay open.

The new elderly and the looming nursing home crisis are documented in a Detroit Area Agency on Aging report that was released Monday. Based on a three-year study of illness and death rates in Detroit, Highland Park, Hamtramck and the Grosse Pointes, the report shows that in addition to accelerated aging, the elderly in the Detroit study area die at a rate 131% higher than their peers around Michigan.

The percentage of older residents in the Detroit study area (particularly those 50 and above) increased significantly between 2000 and 2010 as younger people, especially those with school-age children, moved out of the city.

Read Rochelle Riley's entire column at the Detroit Free Press.

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