65 or older? Then you may fare better in some states than others.
The United Health Foundation’s 2013 “America’s Health Rankings Senior Report” provides a state-by-state snapshot of how healthy senior citizens are and what types of health care resources they have available.
It’s an especially timely issue given the fact that Americans are living longer but sicker lives and that America’s senior population is expected to grow more than 50 percent between 2015 and 2030.
The report tracked health of U.S. adults aged 65 and older across 34 measures of individual and community health, including rates of obesity, physical activity, smoking, chronic diseases like diabetes and death rates among seniors per state, and access to food, health care providers and prescription drug coverage.
Data came from 12 government agencies and research organizations including the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Labor and the Commonwealth Fund.
Seniors aren’t doing too badly in the Hawkeye State. Iowa is the fifth healthiest state for seniors in the nation.
That’s because older Iowans have prescription-drug coverage, are relatively unlikely to have their activities limited by arthritis pain and tend to volunteer a lot. The report indicated that Iowa seniors had the nation’s best rate of volunteerism and its second best rate of insurance coverage for medication.
However, Iowa ranked 47th on obesity, and was ranked 37th for availability of home health care workers.
In the Bay State, seniors are more likely to visit the dentist and get health screenings. Massachusetts also has one of the lowest percentages of estimated geriatrician shortfall at 40 percent of the number of geriatricians needed.
But, while Massachusetts has one of the lowest obesity rates in the U.S. at 22.8 percent of adults aged 65 and older, more than 200,000 seniors are still obese in the state.
Other challenges? There’s a high rate of preventable hospitalizations and a high prevalence of chronic drinking in the state.
3. New Hampshire
Seniors in New Hampshire had the second highest health status with 47.8 percent of adults aged 65 and older who report very good or excellent health.
New Hampshire also boosts a low percentage of seniors living in poverty, a high community of support expenditures, and a high percentage of diabetes management.
On the downside, the state has a high prevalence of chronic drinking and a low percentage of creditable drug coverage. There’s also a low estimated geriatrician shortfall in New Hampshire at 38.5 percent of the geriatricians needed.
Vermont is the second healthiest state for seniors, helped by a low prevalence of smoking and ICU usage, and a high number of dedicated health care providers.
On the downside, there’s a low prevalence of hospice care, the report found.
Minnesota has a lot going for it: a lot of lakes, America’s mall, and the healthiest place to be for seniors.
Minnesota’s strengths include high rates of annual dental visits and creditable drug coverage, relatively high availability of home health care workers, and a low rate of seniors at risk of hunger. Minnesota’s ranking also reflects a low rate of hospitalization for hip fractures, more able-bodied seniors, and a large number of seniors who report being in very good or excellent health.
Challenges for Minnesota include a low percentage of senior residents with a personal doctor or health care provider. Additionally, Minnesota’s senior population is expected to grow nearly 55 percent between 2015 and 2030.
(Photo: White Bear Lake, Associated Press/Ben Garvin)