America’s Health Rankings® (AHR) recently came out with its 2019 Senior Report that provides a comprehensive look at the health of seniors across the nation on a state-by-state basis.
Which state is the healthiest for seniors? Perhaps not surprisingly, our 50th state of Hawaii. The state earned the top ranking for several reasons: it had the lowest prevalence of obesity; the highest prevalence of arthritis management; the highest percentage of four- and five-star rankings of skilled nursing beds; and the lowest death rate among 65- to 75-year-olds.
The rest of the top five states were Utah (No. 2), Connecticut (No. 3), Minnesota (No. 4) and Colorado (No. 5).
The state with the most challenges is the Magnolia State of Mississippi. Among its issues, it has: the lowest community support expenditures; highest prevalence of seniors living in poverty; and highest death rate. The lower five also includes Kentucky (No. 49), Louisiana (No. 48), Oklahoma (Mo. 47) and West Virginia (No. 46).
This year the report also looked at changes in the health of younger seniors (aged 65-74) from 15 years ago. Among the positive findings, when they compared the health of seniors in 2017 with 2002: the death rate is lower, smoking is lower and reporting for good or excellent health is higher.
On the flip side, compared to 15 years ago: excessive drinking is 42 percent higher; obesity is 36 percent higher; diabetes is 36 percent higher; and death by suicide is 16 percent higher.
Finally, the report had some encouraging news, stating the number of home health and personal care aids per 1,000 adults aged 75 and older, has increased 21 percent in the past year and 44 percent in the past six years. It also found there are about 550,000 more home health workers nationwide this year than last.
That is very good news for our growing aging population. One more stat: more than 50 million seniors live in the U.S., an increase of 45 percent since 2000. That makes keeping seniors healthy and safe a huge imperative.
AHR’s 2019 Senior Report was developed by the United Health Foundation in partnership with the Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association.