Arizona ranks 23rd for senior health

  • Comprehensive analysis of senior health reveals strengths, challenges in Arizona and nationally
  • Nationwide, seniors showed encouraging gains in key health measures
  • Maintaining momentum on health improvement is key as senior population doubles in size in the next 25 years

Deer Valley, AZ – Arizona ranked 23rd for senior health this year, according to the second edition of United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings® Senior Report.

Nationwide, seniors are showing encouraging gains in key health measures and taking more steps to improve their own health. Notable gains for senior health include declines in physical inactivity, improvements in quality of nursing home care, reductions in avoidable hospitalizations, and increased preparation for end-of-life care.

“United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings Senior Report is a valuable tool for measuring and understanding the key challenges and opportunities facing Arizona’s senior population,” said Robert Beauchamp, MD, Senior Medical Director, UnitedHealthcare of Arizona. “With the senior population expected to double in size in the next 25 years, it is important that we develop effective programs and solutions that address seniors’ health needs in Arizona and nationwide.”

Arizona’s Overall Health

The America’s Health Rankings Senior Report finds that Arizona has its share of strengths and challenges.

Arizona’s Strengths

  • Low prevalence of obesity
  • High use of hospice care
  • Low percentage of hospital deaths

Arizona’s Challenges

  • High prevalence of underweight seniors
  • Low percentage of volunteerism
  • Low flu vaccination coverage

50-State Snapshot: Minnesota the Healthiest State for Seniors

According to the report, Minnesota is the healthiest state for seniors for the second year in a row. Hawaii ranks second, followed by New Hampshire (3), Vermont (4) and Massachusetts (5). Mississippi is the least healthy state for seniors, followed by Louisiana (49), Kentucky (48), Oklahoma (47) and Arkansas (46).

To see the Rankings in full, visit: www.americashealthrankings.org/senior

Nationwide: Seniors Progress in Key Health Measures

The report shows that seniors are more active compared to last year, with physical inactivity declining from 30.3 percent of the senior population to 28.7 percent. Other notable gains for senior health include a reduction in preventable hospitalizations, dropping from 66.6 discharges per 1,000 Medicare beneficiaries to 64.9 discharges, and improvements in nursing home care, with quality nursing home beds rising from 42 percent of beds rated four or five stars to 46.8 percent. In addition, more seniors are planning for and using their preferred end-of-life care. The report shows utilization of hospice care increasing from 36.7 percent to 47.5 percent among seniors in need of late-stage care.

Rapidly Expanding Senior Population Poses Challenges

With the senior population poised to double in the next 25 years, states and local communities should continue to address unhealthy behaviors that threaten to compromise seniors’ health. More than 35 percent have four or more chronic conditions, while more than 25 percent of seniors are obese and 28 percent are physically inactive. Only about 60 percent of seniors received the flu vaccine in the last 12 months. Older adults will account for roughly 20 percent of the U.S. population by 2030, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, making these challenges urgent.

“This year’s report shows important improvements,” said Rhonda Randall, D.O., senior adviser to United Health Foundation and chief medical officer and executive vice president, UnitedHealthcare Retiree Solutions. “Declines in physical inactivity are especially promising. We as a nation need to continue promoting healthy behaviors among seniors and work with states and communities to improve the health of this growing demographic.”

UnitedHealthcare Programs Address Health Needs of Arizona’s Seniors  

Through its portfolio of Medicare plans, UnitedHealthcare supports Medicare beneficiaries in Arizona with clinical solutions that can help address the health challenges underscored in the America’s Health Rankings Senior Report and may improve seniors’ overall health and wellbeing. These programs include:

  • integrated disease management and care coordination programs, which provide select Medicare Advantage plan members with chronic health conditions – such as diabetes or certain types of heart disease – needed resources and support;
  • UnitedHealthcare’s HouseCalls program, offering qualified Medicare Advantage plan members an at-home visit with a health care practitioner to assess health needs and discuss personal health concerns;
  • UnitedHealthcare’s PharmAssist service, which provides select Medicare Advantage plan members with one-on-one counseling sessions with specialty-trained plan pharmacists to understand how to take their medications as prescribed.

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 commissioning the report, United Health Foundation seeks to promote discussion around the health of older Americans while driving communities, governments, stakeholders and individuals to take action to help improve senior health.

Researchers draw data from more than 12 government agencies and leading research organizations to create a focused, uniquely rich dataset for measuring senior health at the state level, 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.

United Health Foundation also produces the annual America’s Health Rankings report. For 24 years, America’s Health Rankings has provided an analysis of national health on a state-by-state basis by evaluating a historical and comprehensive set of health, environmental and socioeconomic data to determine national health benchmarks and state rankings. The Rankings employs a unique methodology, developed and annually reviewed by a Scientific Advisory Committee of leading public health scholars.

For more information on both reports, visit www.americashealthrankings.org.

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