Don Wright

HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health Don Wright, MD, MPH

America’s population is getting older, with seniors projected to outnumber children for the first time by 2035, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 National Population Projections released in March. As such, public health will be faced with new challenges in meeting the needs of a rapidly aging population. Those challenges, as well as solutions, will be highlighted at the 2018 Healthy Aging Summit. To be held July 16-17 Washington, D.C., the summit is organized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the American College of Preventive Medicine. The Nation’s Health spoke with APHA member Don Wright, MD, MPH, deputy assistant secretary for health and director of HHS’ Office of Disease Prevention at HHS, about promoting health and wellness among an aging population.

 

Q: What constitutes healthy aging?

I think many people focus on physical health, which we think is an important part of well-being, but it goes much broader than that.

It’s (about) cognitive health and maintaining strong brain function. It involves social engagement.

We know that the downstream health outcomes of those individuals that maintain social engagement are…enhanced. And we also know that it’s about adopting a healthy lifestyle and healthy behaviors.

To continue reading this Q&A from the May 2018 issue of The Nation’s Health, visit the newspaper online.