A bus tour designed to get older Iowans to live healthier made a stop at a Des Moines senior center today. The deputy administrator of the Health Resources Services Administration, Dennis Williams, says the tour is called the "Healthier U.S. starts here initiative."
Williams says the tour is organized around a "simple but powerful idea, a few small changes can make a big difference." He says you can greatly reduce your risk of chronic diseases and other health problems by making healthy choices and taking advantage of prevention services. Williams says preventing chronic disease can make a big impact on the country.
Williams says 90-million Americans live with chronic disease, and 75-percent of the money spent on health care goes toward chronic diseases. Williams says there are four steps every American can take to live a healthier lifestyle.
Be physically active every day, eat a nutritious diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, avoid risky behaviors like smoking, and get prevention screenings. You also need to take advantage of all the health care services that are available. Williams cites flu shots as a preventative measure that isn’t always used.
Williams says each year 200,000 people are hospitalized and 16,000 die from the flu or flu-related complications. He says flu shots are free to people on Medicare, but only 65-percent of the eligible people take advantage of them. The state of Iowa is conducting a pilot program that teaches older Iowans how to take advantage of the services available, and how to take care of themselves.