The Best/Worst States for Senior Health

According to the 2016 “America’s Health Rankings Senior Report”  released by the United Health Foundation, Massachusetts has replaced Vermont as the healthiest state for seniors, while Louisiana ranks as the unhealthiest for the second-straight year.

Mississippi continues to score poorly in national health assessments, ranking 48th, trailing only by Oklahoma and last-place Louisiana. Although Mississippi seniors had a low prevalence of excessive drinking and high prevalence of flu vaccinations, they also had a low rate of health screenings and a high premature death rate, the report found (Tony Pugh, Sun Herald).

Also released, in deaths per 100,000, adults ages 65 to 74, Mississippi had the highest death rate with 2,442. Hawaii had the fewest, with 1,394. The national average is 1,786.

Once again, Mississippi ranked dead last in terms of community support for impoverished residents age 65 and over. Mississippi provides an average of just $261 per senior citizen in poverty. The national average is $811. Alaska tops all states, providing an average of $6,701 (Tony Pugh, Sun Herald).

Relentless efforts by Massachusetts seniors to cut smoking and increase physical activity and flu vaccinations helped it reach the top spot after finishing 6th in 2015. Vermont finished second, followed by New Hampshire, Minnesota and Hawaii.

Increasing rates of smoking, obesity and physical inactivity among seniors kept Louisiana in last place for the second-straight year. Oklahoma, Mississippi, Arkansas, and West Virginia were the next four lowest-ranked states.

Nationally, senior health has improved over the last three years. The number of home health care workers increased and the number of preventable hospitalizations, teeth extractions and hip fractures declined.

But increases in obesity and hunger and a decline in home-delivered meals, access to food stamps and financial support for seniors in poverty, contributed to an overall “mixed picture” on seniors’ health, said Rhonda Randall, senior adviser to the United Health Foundation (Tony Pugh, Sun Herald).

Improving seniors’ health is complicated, as millions of aging baby boomers fuel a growth spurt among the elderly, many of whom have multiple chronic diseases (Tony Pugh, Sun Herald).

By 2030, the senior citizen population is expected to increase to 73.8 million, from 49.4 million this year (United States Census Bureau).

You can read more from the Sun Herald at http://www.sunherald.com/.

(Sources: United States Census Bureau, Tony Pugh, Sun Herald)

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