Public Health: Increasing the Number of Healthy Years We Live

Smile mother and daughter of African heritage

The first week of April is National Public Health Week. To mark the occasion, we wanted to share how Public Health—Seattle & King County (Public Health) is working with the Area Agency on Aging for King County and other local initiatives to improve the health of older adults.

Improving health and increasing longevity
Nationally, on average, a woman born today can expect to live more than three decades longer than her great-grandmother born at the turn of the last century. This unprecedented gain is rooted in developments in medical science and also in the history of public health—studying the sources of contagion and how to control diseases led to interventions, including sanitation, immunizations, and health education.

Image shows map of Seattle-King County with pattern of higher longevity in north Seattle and NE King County, and lower longevity in south Seattle and all of south King County.

Life expectancy in Seattle and parts of King County can differ by more than 10 years.

Applying what we know, Public Health works every day to ensure that the water you drink is pure and that the food you eat is safe. We protect King County residents against exposure to communicable diseases and to prepare for an orderly response to public health emergencies. Through this work, we lay a foundation for health that benefits everyone in our community.

We also know that health is determined by a lot more than just health care. Where and how people in our county can access healthy foods, be active, age in place, and engage actively in their communities can make the difference between a long and healthy life and death.

At Public Health, our goal is to increase the number of healthy years lived by everyone in King County.

Reducing health disparities
While the gains in longevity—or life expectancy—are astounding, not everyone benefits equally. For average life expectancy, King County is a top performer among all counties in the U.S.—95th percentile. But longevity varies widely depending on a person’s race and where she lives. For example, women in South Bellevue can expect to live more than 10 years longer than those in South Renton.

Read more in the April 2018 issue of AgeWise King County (click here) …