Demographics & Research


(Click here to view report.)


The Detroit Area Agency on Aging (DAAA) is excited to share an update on our award-winning research project, Dying Before Their Time, commissioned by our agency, and the analysis prepared by researchers at Wayne State University School of Medicine.  Dying Before Their Time III is a cumulative 19-year (1999-2017) analysis of the health status of older adults in Detroit (PSA 1-A Service Area) compared to older adults in the rest of the State of Michigan, known as Not PSA 1-A. The Dying Before Their Time (DBTT) study is critical to understanding the vulnerability of this older adult population especially in the context of the COVID-19 Pandemic, which is now superimposed on this population currently living with a Chronic Disease Epidemic.

The Detroit Area Agency on Aging is grateful for the partnership with the Wayne State University School of Medicine.  The incredible work and leadership of Herbert C. Smitherman Jr., MD, MPH, FACP; Lee Kallenbach, PhD; and Anil N. F. Aranha, PhD are valued by our agency and we believe their research and recommendations provide the solutions needed to help DAAA decrease excess mortality, morbidity and the disproportionate burden of chronic illnesses on older adults in our region.

This study documents something startling is happening to our older neighbors.  In the DAAA service area, older adults die at twice the rate of those living elsewhere in Michigan. Multiple chronic illnesses, excessive hospitalizations and poor access to healthcare are among the reasons for this upward trend in excess death rates for seniors in our region.  However, these are just symptoms of the major underlying cause of excess deaths of older adults in our region, which are Social Determinants of Health (SDOH).

Social Determinants of Health (SDOH), namely social factors such as appropriate nutrition, housing, access to appropriate healthcare and social services, water supply, income, education, mental health services, jobs, environmental justice issues, overall neighborhood conditions, etc. influence 60-70% of the health and wellbeing of an individual and their surrounding community.  Any solutions must address SDOH.  Major findings include PSA 1-A death rate for ages 50 to 59 is 122% higher in comparison to those aged 50-59 in the rest of the State of Michigan and is 48% higher for ages 60-74. 

Therefore the Dying Before Their Time (DBTT) study is a call to action for our region.  The Detroit Area Agency on Aging and Wayne State University School of Medicine are pleased to present the DBTT III report. This report/study details the health challenges of older adults in PSA 1-A (Detroit) from 1999-2017. It also presents initial recommendations toward reversing historic social, economic and health public policies and therefore centuries of racialized poverty. Unless there is a sustained effort to make meaningful policy changes and address SDOH, we will continue to see the mortality trend line of this study persist over many decades to come. Our hope is that this study is a step toward changing this trajectory.


Ronald S. Taylor, MBA, MA                        Herbert C. Smitherman Jr., MD, MPH, FACP

President & CEO                                         Dying Before Their Time #3 - Research Lead               

Detroit Area Agency on Aging                   Wayne State University School of Medicine


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