June 9, 2019 — America’s seniors are a little bit healthier than they were a few years ago, even though obesity and excessive drinking are on the rise. America’s Health Rankings; put together by the United Health Foundation, an affiliate of UnitedHealth Group, and the Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association, rated the states with the healthiest people over 65. Some of the states that ranked the highest were a bit surprising.
Top ranked for the healthiest older people ranged geographically all over the country: Hawaii, Utah, Connecticut, Minnesota, and Colorado. States in the South brought up the rear: Mississippi, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and West Virginia. Rhode Island earned most improved honors, going from #30 to #7. Going in the unhealthy direction were Kansas and Nebraska, which both fell 10 places, from 18 to 28 and 13 to 23.
Plenty of bad behaviors.
The report says the prevalence of “certain unhealthy behaviors and health outcomes is higher compared with seniors in the same age bracket in 2002.” Obesity is high for example, at 29% of the national senior population and 13% higher than it was six years ago. One of the reasons Hawaii ranked number one was that its obesity rate was one of the lowest, 20%. Depression and alcohol abuse are also increasing. Among “younger” seniors, aged 65 to 74, the excessive drinking rate is 42% higher compared to 15 years ago.
Stress and depression
Frequent mental distress — those reporting their
mental health was not good during 14 or more
of the last 30 days — also remains a challenge
among seniors. Nearly 4 million seniors report
frequent mental distress, impacting 7.9 percent of
the senior population.
Some good things happening
Smoking rates have declined 16% since 2002. Overall, the percentage of young seniors who report their health is very good or excellent is higher in 2017 than it was in 2002.
Comments? How is your progress going on living a healthier life? Are you taking steps to improve the ranking of your state? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.