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Massachusetts ranks among best in country for senior health. What to know.
Massachusetts ranks among best in country for senior health. What to know.
Massachusetts ranks among best in country for senior health. What to know.

Published on: 06/11/2024

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There comes a time in every person's life when they start thinking about finding a place to grow old. For some, the decision was made a long time ago, for others, it comes about as retirement looms.

A lot of factors go into this choice - family, friends, community, the weather. But what the state's number of geriatric clinicians? Or the level of social isolation?

The United Health Foundation released the America's Health Rankings 2024 Senior Report used data gathered from sources including the Center for Disease Control and U.S. Census Bureau to rank the states based on both their strengths and weaknesses regarding senior healthcare and quality of life.

"Understanding the health of the increasingly large and diverse population of older adults presents a unique opportunity to embrace creative, holistic, collaborative and community-based solutions that improve their health and well-being — and thus, the overall health of our nation," the executive brief of the report stated.

New England was overall well represented in the top 10, with Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut in the top 10, and Massachusetts was ranked No. 12.

Individual state rankings were the sum of 52 weighted statistics considered health indicators for residents aged 65 and older. While Massachusetts ranked extremely high in some, its poor rating in other categories brought it down.

The Bay Stated took first place in lack of firearm deaths, SNAP reach, money spent on community support expenditures, and percent of the population covered by smoke free policies.

It also ranked highly from its lack of early deaths (No. 2) and low suicide rate (No. 3). Healthcare access was also among the top in the country with a strong ratio of geriatric clinicians to adults over 65, and over 97% of those adults having a dedicated healthcare provider, with both ranking second nationwide.

Additionally, close to 50% of adults over 65 reported their health in 2022 as very good or excellent.

The top three challenges facing the state according to the report were high numbers of preventable hospitalizations, housing cost burdens and risk of social isolation.

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While healthcare quality and access may be among the best in the nation, many senior residents are going to the hospital when they may not need to - leading to rising healthcare costs and risk of medical complications. Massachusetts was No. 44 in preventable hospitalizations among adults between the ages of 65 and 74, said the report.

Housing cost burden refers to the percentage of households with one or more adults age 65 and older for which housing costs are 30% or more of household income. For Massachusetts this was 40.3%, placing it near the bottom of the ladder at 48th in the country.

Risk of social isolation was graded on an index of one to 100, based on factors such as living in poverty; living alone; being divorced, separated or widowed; having never married; having a disability; and having an independent living difficulty. Massachusetts scored 62 on the index, placing it at No. 34 in the country.

The top five states with the overall highest ranking for senior health were Utah, Colorado, Vermont, New Hampshire and Minnesota, respectively.

The bottom five were Arkansas (45), Oklahoma (46), Kentucky (47), West Virginia (48), Louisiana (49) and Mississippi (50).

News Source : https://www.telegram.com/story/news/2024/06/11/senior-health-massachusetts-rankings-united-health-foundation/73995348007/

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