Lewis Diuguid

July 15, 2014

States in North rank highest in healthiest places for seniors to live in U.S.

Missouri didn’t come out well in a United Health Foundation ranking of the healthiest states in the U.S. for people age 65 and older.

A ranking of the healthiest states in the U.S. for people age 65 and older doesn’t paint a pretty picture of Missouri.

The United Health Foundation’s 2013 ranking in the July-August AARP Bulletin puts the Show-Me State at 33rd — well below the top 25 in the U.S. Kansas ranks 18th.

Mississippi is 50th, and Minnesota is No. 1. I looked up the foundation on the Internet to see what the report measured and found that for 2014, Missouri actually dropped to 39th place while Kansas edged up to 17th.

America’s Health Rankings Senior Report: A Call to Action for Individuals and their Communities examines data for obesity, physical inactivity, food insecurity and poverty in ranking states for overall senior health. For 2014, Minnesota again ranked No. 1 and Mississippi came in last.

“Minnesota’s strengths include ranking first for all health determinants combined, which includes ranking in the top five states for a high rate of annual dental visits, high percentage of volunteerism, a high percentage of quality nursing home beds, a low percentage of marginal food insecurity, a high percentage of prescription drug coverage and ready availability of home health care workers,” the report said.

The information is important because today one in eight Americans is age 65 and older. By 2050, that age group is expected to double in size, growing from 40.3 million Americans to 88.5 million as more baby boomers become senior citizens, the report notes.

Knowing where best to live could help seniors enjoy a better life. What’s telling is a lot of the states in the South don’t have high rankings.

The bottom 12 were Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arkansas, West Virginia, Alabama, Tennessee, Nevada, Texas, Georgia and Missouri. “Mississippi ranks in the bottom five states for 14 of the 34 measures, including ranking last for a high percentage of seniors in poverty, a low percentage of seniors who report very good or excellent health, a low percentage of able-bodied seniors and a high premature death rate,” the report says.

The top 12 are Minnesota, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Delaware, Wisconsin, Maryland and Connecticut.

As people age, they may want to rethink going with the current migratory trend of moving to the South and figure out how to make a home in the North.

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