Minnesota, Hawaii Rank as Top States for Senior Health

Ready availability of home health workers and quality nursing home beds are some of the strengths that make Minnesota the healthiest state for seniors for the second consecutive year in a row, according to a new report that ranks the healthiest states for seniors.

Hawaii ranks second, followed by New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts in the second edition of America’s Health Rankings’ senior report, released by the United Health Foundation.

On the other end of the spectrum is Mississippi, ranked the least healthy state for seniors in the 2014 Senior Report and preceded by Louisiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Arkansas, respectively.

Within the report’s clinical care category—which includes home health care—Delaware ranks first, while Mississippi ranks 50th.

Within the report’s community and environment category—which includes quality nursing homes—Minnesota ranks first for macro community and environment, while Louisiana ranks 50th.

State rankings were determined by data including a high rate of annual dental visits, a high percentage of volunteerism, a low percentage of marginal food insecurity, a high percentage of prescription drug coverage, in addition to availability of home health care workers and quality nursing home beds.

“We commissioned this report to understand and identify ways to improve seniors’ health because Americans are living longer,” Reed Tuckson, M.D., senior medical adviser to United Health Foundation, says in a news release. In the next 25 years, America’s senior population is expected to double.

Other key findings from the report include a national decrease in senior hospitalizations nationally from last year, with preventable hospitalizations of seniors dropping from 66.6 discharges per 1,000 Medicare beneficiaries to 64.9 discharges.

Seniors are also more active compared to last year, with physical inactivity declining from 30.3% of the senior population to 28.7%.

“This news points to the idea that seniors are not only managing their health better, but they’re also engaging more with their health and health care, including planning for the future,” the report says. The report is meant to encourage seniors and the people in their lives “to be more active [and talk] about end-of-life plans,” Tuckson says.

Researchers considered more than 30 select health determinants for individuals aged 65 and older and their collective impact on population health at the national and state-by-state level for the report.

They drew data from more than 12 government agencies and leading research organizations, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Department of Labor, The Dartmouth Atlas Project, the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger and the Commonwealth Fund.

To view the full report, “A Call to Action for Individuals and Their Communities,” click here.

Written by Cassandra Dowell

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