New Report Ranks Healthiest States for Older People

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • I have to admit I have a bias – I hate being called a “senior.” When I think of that term, I think of my father (who is 87) or people in their 70s, not people who are in their 50s. And yet, I find after reaching middle age and going through the menopausal transition that I am paying more attention to the term “senior” when it talks about quality of life because I want to make sure that the decisions that I make support a quality of life and healthy aging. And I expect the same from policymakers, whether at the federal, state or local level.

    Therefore, I was very interested in seeing the new report, “America’s Health Rankings Senior Report: A Call to Action for Individuals and Their Communities,” that was just released by the United Health Foundation, which is comprised of the American Public Health Association and the Partnership for Prevention. The report is designed to provide data on today’s seniors that will be useful so that the nation, states, local communities and families can take action to improve senior health.

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    A Wake-Up Call for Middle-Aged Women

    This report uses four categories encompassing a total of 34 measures of senior health: Behaviors (smoking, chronic drinking, obesity, underweight, physical activity, dental visits and pain management); Community and Environment (poverty, volunteerism, high-rated nursing homes, social support, food insecurity and community support); Policy (low-care nursing home residents, creditable drug coverage and geriatrician shortfall); and Clinical Care (dedicated health care workers, recommended hospital care, flu vaccine, health screenings, diabetes management, home health care, preventable hospitalizations, hospital readmissions, hospice care and hospital deaths). Additionally, the report analyzed eight outcomes – Intensive Care Unit usage, falls, hip fractures, health status, able-bodied seniors, premature deaths, teeth extractions and mental health days.

    The report also identified specific challenges that the United States will face -- and there’ s a big one regarding people our age. “Nationally, the self-reported health status of the middle-aged population has decreased slightly from 1995 to 2010 with 1.7 percent fewer adults age 50 to 64 reporting very good or excellent health,” the report states. “This drop in health status is far more precipitous in some states than others, with nearly 13 percent fewer adults in Louisiana and New Mexico reporting very good or excellent health.” The report points out that states that have the greatest declines should expect to face additional challenges in the near future as the 50-64 year-old population that describes itself as less healthy ages.

    State Rankings

    In addition, the report ranks states based on the data, indicating where seniors are the healthiest both because of their individual status as well as their having access to key health and community resources.

    Minnesota had the top ranking overall among all the states. The remaining states (from 2-50) were: 2. Vermont; 3. New Hampshire; 4. Massachusetts; 5. Iowa; 6. Hawaii; 7. Connecticut; 8. Colorado; 9. Utah; 10. Maryland; 11. North Dakota; 12. Delaware;  13. Maine; 14. Nebraska; 15. Oregon; 16. Washington; 17. Pennsylvania; 18. Kansas; 19. South Dakota; 20. Wisconsin; 21. Virginia; 22. Arizona; 23. New York; 24. Idaho; 25. California; 26. Michigan; 27. New Jersey; 28. Ohio; 29. North Carolina; 30. Florida; 31. Rhode Island; 32. Indiana; 33. Missouri; 34. Wyoming; 35. Montana; 36. South Carolina; 37. Illinois; 38. New Mexico; 39. Texas; 40. Alaska; 41. Tennessee; 42. Nevada; 43. Georgia; 44. Alabama; 45. Kentucky; 46. Arkansas; 47. West Virginia; 48. Louisiana; 49. Oklahoma; and 50. Mississippi.

  • “Looking across the 34 measures in America’s Health Rankings Senior Report, we see how important it is for people to explore the data and investigate where states are excelling and where they are falling behind,” said Dr. Reed Tuckson, senior advisor to the United Health Foundation, in a press release. “All states have their share of strengths and challenges, and we must make a concerted effort to learn from one another and replicate what works.”

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    America’s Health Rankings.  (2013). New report: Minnesota healthiest state for seniors. United Health Foundation.

    America’s Health Rankings. (2013). 2013 Senior Report. United Health Foundation.

Published On: May 31, 2013