Report reveals disparities among seniors living in rural regions

The United Health Foundation released the America’s Health Rankings Senior Report. Now in its sixth year, the 2018 report found seniors living in rural areas fare differently across key markers of health compared to their urban and suburban peers. 

Among the 2018 key findings:

  • Rural seniors experience health disparities across a wide range of measures:

    • More seniors are physically inactive in rural areas;

    • Seniors living in rural areas are 7 percent less likely to receive the flu vaccination; and

    • Significantly more seniors report falls in rural areas (32.4 percent compared to 28.5 percent suburban and 29.5 percent of urban seniors). 

  • Across the nation, suicide amongst seniors increased 12 percent since 2014. 

  • Utah is the new healthiest state for seniors, followed by Hawaii (No. 2), New Hampshire (No. 3), Minnesota (No. 4) and Colorado (No. 5). All these states ranked in the top 5 in 2017, showing consistency in the healthiest cohort. The states with the greatest opportunities for improving senior health are Louisiana (No. 50), Mississippi (No. 49), Kentucky (No. 48), Arkansas (No. 47) and Oklahoma (No. 46).

Findings from this year’s Senior Report reveal that challenges facing seniors vary widely across and within states and that subpopulations experience disparities that are not always reflected in national averages. United Health Foundation supports efforts that help build healthier communities and address the unique health and wellness challenges present in the senior population. Policymakers, public health officials and community leaders are encouraged to use this report, along with the entire suite of America’s Health Rankings data, to support decision-making related to initiatives aimed at improving the overall health of the senior population. 

America’s Health Rankings represents the United Health Foundation’s ongoing commitment to help build healthier communities and serves as a resource for third parties, policy-makers, thought leaders and influencers at the State and Federal levels.

To read the full report or see how your state ranks – visit