Yesterday, the United Health Foundation published the first comprehensive state-by-state analysis of elder health in the U.S. As Judith Graham (disclosure: she is a friend) reports at Kaiser Health News:
”Overall rankings in the report are based on a composite score of 34 measures of senior health, with data drawn from more than a dozen government agencies and organizations such as the Dartmouth Atlas Project and the Commonwealth Fund.
Among those 34 measures of elder health, reports Judith, are:
- smoking and chronic alcohol consumption
- the extent of poverty and funding for community supports
- the availability of geriatricians and the extent of drug coverage for seniors
- clinical care and the delivery of health care services
- the number of preventable hospitalizations and hospital readmissions
Of course, you are wondering how your state ranks. If you live in Minnesota, congratulations. It wins the number one spot as the healthiest state for old people. Directly behind it are Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Iowa.
However, if you live in Mississippi, your state is the bookend to Minnesota. (Poor ol' Mississippi; it comes in last in so many (too many) quality-of-life measurements.)
Moving up the rankings from there are Oklahoma, Louisiana, West Virginia and Arkansas.
In addition to these overall rankings, the report includes color-coded maps to illustrate each state's incidence of obesity, tobacco use, diabetes and physical inactivity for people 65 and older.
This is the obesity map – the estimated percentage of those in the age group with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher:
You can find your state's rankings in all the categories within the full report here. Click on a state (at that website) for a full description of findings.
Don't you love it when someone does your work for you? Judith further notes in her story:
”Several findings are sobering, although not altogether new. Notably, only 38.4 percent of older adults rated their health as 'very good or excellent' in 2011.
“One in every five seniors said they did not get sufficient social and emotional support, putting them at risk of isolation and loneliness, conditions known to have an adverse impact on older adults’ health.”
Judith also included a (to me) shocking statistic about chronic illness I had never run across before:
“Nearly 80 percent of the 65-plus population has been diagnosed with at least one such illness; half the population has received a diagnosis of two or more chronic conditions.”
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Henry Lowensterm: Zzzzzzzz