Minnesota Is The Healthiest State For Seniors, Not Florida, Not Hawaii

May 24, 2014

The State of Minnesota is the Healthiest State for Seniors – adults aged 65 and over according to the recently released America’s Health Rankings Senior Report 2014 by United Health Foundation. Winter favorites Hawaii and Florida have come at positions 2 and 28.

The report ranked Mississippi the least healthy state for seniors preceded by Louisiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Arkansas.Minnesota healthiest state for seniors 65 and above

The report grades states on 34 individual measures ranging from the amount of physical activity to prescription drug coverage to flu vaccinations. New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts round out the top 5 states.

Dr. Reed Tuckson, senior medical adviser to the UnitedHealth foundation, which funds the annual rankings said Minnesota stands out in a number of key indicators beyond volunteering. Seniors in the state have the lowest prevalence of cognitive problems, and they visit the dentist often.

Seth Boffeli, spokesman for AARP Minnesota said the report underscores that decades of proactive efforts have paid off.  He says Minnesota was ahead of the curve in moving towards community-based living for seniors and away from institutionalized nursing home care, when possible.

America’s Health Rankings Senior Report can be downloaded from the website.

About America’s Health Rankings Senior Report

America’s Health Rankings Senior Report: A Call to Action for Individuals and Their Communities offers a comprehensive analysis of senior population health on a national and state-by-state basis across 34 measures of senior health.

In 2011, the first of more than 70 million baby boomers turned 65, marking the beginning of a tremendous demographic shift in the US population. Today, more than 1 in 8 Americans are aged 65 or older. By the year 2050, this age group is projected to more than double in size, from 40.3 million to 88.5 million. The increasing number of older adults, combined with increasing rates of obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases, are on track to overwhelm our health care system. The pressure that this demographic shift places on the nation is not evenly distributed among the states, with some states expecting many more aging baby boomers than others.

Seniors are the largest consumers of health care as the process of aging brings upon the need for more frequent use. Adults aged 65 and older spend nearly twice as much as 45 to 64 year olds on health care each year. They spend 3 to 5 times more than all adults younger than 65. The health needs of older adults are not only more costly but also vastly different from the younger population. Nearly 80 percent of seniors have already been diagnosed with at least 1 chronic condition and half have been diagnosed with at least 2 conditions. The widespread prevalence of chronic disease among older adults leads to increased visits to health professionals, more medications prescribed, and a decline in overall well-being and quality of life. If our nation’s seniors are unhealthy, can we be healthy as a society?

As seniors age, challenges such as limited mobility, social isolation, and the need for long-term care become increasingly common. These issues extend far beyond the health care system, as they encompass the ability of communities to accommodate limited-mobility residents and that of families and communities to provide long-term care.

By assessing the current status of senior health, communities, governments, individuals, and other organizations can build awareness of the breadth of issues facing our seniors—and, by extension, our communities—and learn where and how to take action to improve the health of our current and future seniors. In particular, it is intended to promote widespread awareness of where states stand on important public health measures and will drive action towards activities shown to improve population health.

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