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 An Introduction to the 19 year study "Dying Before Their Time III"
Herbert C. Smitherman, Jr., MD, MPH, FACP:
Something startling is happening to our older adult neighbors in Detroit. A recent 19-year study of the older adult population of Detroit, commissioned by the Detroit Area Agency on Aging and conducted by a team of Wayne State University School
of Medicine researchers reveals between 1990 and 2000, Detroit lost 23% of its adult population age 60 and older, and this rate of loss, independent of COVID-19, continues today.
Understanding the causes for this rapid decline in Detroit’s older population was the main purpose of “Dying Before Their Time” (DBTT) study. At the onset of that study, the prevailing theory for the older adult population decline in Detroit was out-migration (seniors simply leaving Detroit for the suburbs.)
The bottom line of the study was that over 33% of the older adult population loss in Detroit was due to premature deaths: seniors were Dying Before Their Time. The 2020 edition of the DBTT study concludes that the death rates of Detroit seniors has not abated, but remains 2-to- 2 1⁄2 times higher than the rest of the state. The DBTT 2020 report also finds the death rate for Detroit adults ages 50 to 59 is 122% higher than in the rest of Michigan, and 48% higher for ages 60
to 74. Adding a pandemic to this already fragile, vulnerable, predominantly African
American population is akin to pouring rocket fuel on a raging fire and why we see such disproportionate deaths from COVID-19 in Detroit. Racial disparities in deaths from the COVID-19 outbreak across the US has exposed generations of US policy-driven racial, social, economic and health inequities and injustice that have always been there, and will continue to be there, if change does not occur.
Learn how to read the full report on the next page.
   18 Detroit Medical News Third Quarter 2020
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