America’s Health Rankings Senior Report reveals challenges of an aging population

More than 50 million seniors live in the United States, an increase of 45% since 2000. In May, the United Health Foundation released the 2019 America’s Health Rankings Senior ReportThis report, created in partnership with the Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association (GAPNA), builds on the United Health Foundation’s ongoing efforts to improve the health of America’s seniors.  

In case you missed the report, here are a few of this year’s key findings: 

Encouraging progress in the use of services that help older adults remain in their homes and communities. 

  • The number of home health and personal care aides nationwide has increased by 550,000 since last year.
  • Hospice care among Medicare decedents has increased 48% since 2013.
  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) now serves 5.4 million eligible seniors, a 13% increase since 2015.

The 65 and older population still faces notable challenges to their health and well-being.

  • Depression increased 19% in the past year, with significant increases in 11 states.
  • Nearly 8% of seniors reported frequent mental distress in the past year. 
  • About 5% of seniors reported not seeing a doctor due to cost in the past year.

A then-and-now comparison was performed to provide insights into how the health of younger seniors (aged 65–74) has changed over the last 15 years. 

  • Although younger seniors report a high health status, the rate of certain unhealthy behaviors and outcomes is increasing. 
  • Excessive drinking, obesity, diabetes and suicide all saw double-digit increases.

Hawaii remains the healthiest state for seniors, followed by Utah, Connecticut, Minnesota and Colorado.

Mississippi has the greatest opportunity for improvement in overall health, followed by Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma and West Virginia. 

To learn more, visit AmericasHealthRankings.org and watch an overview video.