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Health of Arizona seniors falls near middle of United States rankings

(Photo: coombesy via Pixabay)

PHOENIX — The health of seniors in Arizona ranks around the middle of the pack in the United States, a study found.

America’s Health Rankings used more than 30 barometers to get a view of health in seniors around the country and compare the states. With strengths including low obesity rates but cons such as high percentage of intensive care unit use, Arizona finished tied with Illinois at No. 31.

It’s the second year in a row Arizona has finished at No. 31, down from No. 28 in from 2016 and 2017 and No. 21 in 2015.

The state ranks well in the clinical care category as the second-best state in the country in America Health Rankings’ study of hospice care and hospital deaths and No. 8 in preventable hospitalizations.

Arizona seniors are also No. 8 in prescription drug coverage and obesity.

Hospital deaths of Medicare decedents 65-plus have decreased 25% over the last six years and home heath care workers have increased from 89.6 aides to 105.1 per 1,000 people 75 years or older over the last five years.

However, the demographic falls short in many areas, notably food insecurity (a five-year increase of 54 percent), flu vaccine (No. 44 in the country) and ICU use (No. 46). SNAP Reach is also far below the national average at No. 40.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that while the obesity rate in adults aged 65-plus is strong, it has increased from 22% to 25.5% over the last six years.

To rank the states, the study scored each on a scale with 1 being the highest and minus-1 the lowest. Arizona scored minus-0.077, slightly below average.

Hawaii had the highest score at 0.778 while the lowest belonged to Mississippi, which scored an abysmal minus-.989. That is a full tenth lower than No. 49, Kentucky, at minus-0.880.

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