In what state would you guess the healthiest seniors live? Minnesota rated the highest of the 50 states in a report by the United Health Foundation (UHF). The report and its ranking criteria were cited in a recent article on SeniorHousingNews.com. Factors that contributed to the states with the highest ratings were primarily health and lifestyle choices and easily accessible medical care. The study used 34 separate health factors, including availability of home health care workers, number of annual dental visits, good coverage for medications and a high rate of volunteerism.
The following states took second through fifth place in the rankings – Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Iowa. First-ranked Minnesota also reported the best health outcomes, such as fewer incidences of hospitalization for hip fractures, low premature death rate, fewer mental health days per month, a high percentage of able-bodied seniors and those self-reporting “very good” or “excellent” health.
Last Place Linked to Poverty
In last place was Mississippi, due largely to the high percentage of poverty levels for seniors, putting them at high risk for hunger and premature death. Mississippi had a small percentage of seniors reporting “very good” or “excellent” health. Other states in the bottom rankings included Oklahoma, Louisiana, West Virginia and Arkansas.
With the UHF study projecting that by 2050, seniors over 65 in the U.S. will double from 40.3 million to 88.5 million, combined with rising rates of diabetes and chronic illnesses, the healthcare system structures and number of caregivers will be inadequate. One of the study’s advisors quoted in the article said, “States with healthy seniors have a combination of positive personal behaviors and community support, which demonstrate that improving senior health will only come about by acting on an individual, family, community and state level.”