Health Rankings Senior Report: Healthiest States For Seniors

America’s Health Rankings Senior Report is the companion report to the United Health Foundation’s long-running state-by-state study of the health of the United States. Despite Nick Naylor’s suggestion that “perhaps Vermont cheddar should come with a skull and crossbones,” the Green Mountain State is the healthiest state for elderly adults. Louisiana, on the other hand, is no country for old men – or women.

America’s Health Rankings Senior Report 2015 rankings

State/Rank

Score

1.       Vermont

0.664

2.       New Hampshire

0.633

3.       Minnesota

0.616

4.       Hawaii

0.587

5.       Utah

0.518

6.       Massachusetts

0.517

7.       Wisconsin

0.452

8.       Colorado

0.436

9.       Oregon

0.409

10.   Connecticut

0.368

11.   Maine

0.343

12.   Washington

0.343

13.   Maryland

0.293

14.   Rhode Island

0.274

15.   Iowa

0.250

16.   Nebraska

0.210

17.   Michigan

0.201

18.   Delaware

0.198

19.   North Dakota

0.187

20.   Idaho

0.168

21.   New York

0.166

22.   Arizona

0.162

23.   South Dakota

0.132

24.   Kansas

0.101

25.   Pennsylvania

0.076

26.   New Jersey

0.073

27.   Florida

0.025

28.   Virginia

-0.002

29.   California

-0.014

30.   Ohio

-0.016

31.   Alaska

-0.032

32.   North Carolina

-0.063

33.   New Mexico

-0.066

34.   Montana

-0.102

35.   Wyoming

-0.150

36.   South Carolina

-0.167

37.   Illinois

-0.173

38.   Missouri

-0.214

39.   Georgia

-0.236

40.   Indiana

-0.243

41.   Texas

-0.365

42.   Alabama

-0.449

43.   Nevada

-0.450

44.   Tennessee

-0.495

45.   West Virginia

-0.543

46.   Oklahoma

-0.630

47.   Arkansas

-0.662

48.   Kentucky

-0.767

49.   Mississippi

-0.817

50.   Louisiana

-0.864

 

 

Highlights

·         Vermont had a 10% decrease in chronic drinking and a 13% increase in hospice care. The state’s other strengths include mental health days, community support, availability of home-delivered meals, high SNAP enrollment, and low ICU use.

 

·         New Hampshire stands out for low percentage of seniors living in poverty, ready availability of home-delivered meals, high health status, high prevalence of activity-limiting arthritis pain, low prescription drug coverage, low SNAP enrollment.

 

·         Minnesota features high volunteerism, low prevalence of food insecurity, few poor mental health days, low community-support expenditures, low SNAP enrollment, and low percentage of seniors with dedicated provider.

 

·         Massachusetts replaces Iowa in the 5th spot. Minnesota, Vermont, and New Hampshire have consistently appeared in the top 5, while Hawaii – which rounds up the top 5 – has been in this group every year with the exception of 2013.

 

·         A high prevalence of smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity, as well as a low percentage of seniors who visited a dentist in the past year and a high prevalence of food insecurity sink Louisiana in the 50th place.

 

·         Mississippi suffers from high prevalence of smoking and physical inactivity, and high percentage of seniors living in poverty.

 

·         Kentucky’s weaknesses include high prevalence of smoking, low percentage of dental visit, high premature death rate

 

·         Mississippi, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Oklahoma, which complete the bottom 5, have been there all three years that the report has existed – with the exception of 2013 for Kentucky.

Changes in rank since 2014

 

Up

Down

California

 

From 18th to 29th. Physical inactivity increased 28% and poor mental health days increased 16%. Ranks 50th in SNAP Reach at 22.6% of seniors aged 60+ living in poverty.

New York

From 32nd to 21st. Smoking decreased 20%, flu vaccination increased 13%, and home health care workers increased 14%. Ranks 2nd in SNAP reach at 119.9% of seniors aged 60+ living in poverty.

 

Kansas

 

From 17th to 24th. Physical inactivity increased 14%, pain management decreased 17%, and food insecurity increased 17%.

Virginia

 

From 21st to 28th. Physical inactivity increased 21%, pain management decreased 19%, and food insecurity increased 43%.

Delaware

 

From 9th to 18th. Pain management decreased 34%, obesity increased 17%, and physical inactivity increased 14%.

Rhode Island

From 26th to 14th. Ranks 4th in SNAP reach at 112.3% of seniors aged 60+ living in poverty. Smoking decreased 21%, underweight seniors decreased 29%, and ICU use decreased 21%.

 

 

Successes

Vs.

Challenges

Flu vaccination

Up 5% from 60.1% to 62.8% of adults aged 65+

 

Physical inactivity

Up 15%from 28.7% to 33.1% of adults aged 65+

Home health care workers

Up 9%from 95.4 to 104.3 workers per 1000 adults aged 75+, up 11% since 2013.

Food insecurity

Up 4%from 14.3% to 14.8% of adults aged 60+, up 9% since 2013.

Hospice care

Up 7% from 47.5% to 50.6% of decedents aged 65+ who

received hospice in the last

6 months of life.

Depression

Up 10% from 13.4% to 14.8% of adults aged 65+, up 14% since 2013.

 

 

Excellent/very good health status

Up 5% from 39.9% to 41.8% of adults aged 65+, up 9% since 2013.

Community support

Down from $1147 to $873 per senior living in poverty.

Education

Up from 22.2% to 23.1% of adults aged 65+ with a college degree.

Pain management

Down in last 2 years from 51.7% to 45.7% adults aged 65+ who report ability to do usual activities without joint pain.

Hip fractures

Down since 2013 from 7.3 to 6.2 hospitalizations per 100,000 Medicare beneficiaries.

 

Preventable hospitalizations

Down 9% from 64.9 to 59.3 discharges per 1,000 Medicare beneficiaries, down 11% since 2013.

Hospital deaths

Down 9%from 25.0 to 22.8 deaths per 100,000 Medicare beneficiaries, down 24% since 2013.

Premature death

Down from 1,909 to 1,803 deaths per 100,000 adults aged 65 to 74.

 

Related: What is the perfect living situation for your senior relative?