PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island is ranked 31st in the United States for senior health, according to the inaugural edition of United Health Foundation’s “America’s Health Rankings Senior Report: A Call to Action for Individuals and Their Communities,” released Wednesday.
The report offers a comprehensive analysis of senior population health on a national and state-by-state basis across 34 measures of senior health, including both health determinants and health outcomes.
In calculating Rhode Island’s bill of health for seniors, the report found that the state had a mixed share of strengths and challenges.
Among its strengths were the high prevalence of dedicated health care providers, a high percentage of health screenings, and a low rate of hospitalization for hip fractures.
Rhode Island’s challenges included a high prevalence of chronic drinking, a low percentage of social support, and a high percentage of hospital readmissions.
Nationally, Minnesota led the nation for senior health, followed by Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Iowa. Mississippi ranked 50th, preceded by Oklahoma, Louisiana, West Virginia, and Arkansas.
“United Health Foundation’s ‘America’s Health Rankings Senior Report’ is a highly valuable tool to help gain a greater understanding of the heath challenges faced by Rhode Island’s seniors,” Dr. Sandra B. Nichols, chief medical officer for UnitedHealthcare in Rhode Island, said in prepared remarks. “Rhode Island’s growing senior population points to the urgency of identifying key opportunities for improving senior health and pursuing effective solutions at the national, state, community and family levels.”
The report was commissioned to examine the health care challenges facing seniors, with the goal of encouraging new ways to improve senior health, according to foundation officials.
Americans are living longer but sicker lives and America’s senior population is poised to grow more than 50 percent between 2015 and 2030, making senior health a timely and critical national issue, according to foundation officials.
“Chronic illness is unnecessarily high among seniors,” Dr. Rhonda Randall, senior advisor to United Health Foundation and chief medical officer, UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement, said in a statement. “The coordination of care for seniors, particularly the 50 percent of the population with multiple chronic illnesses, is complex and increases pressure on our country’s caregivers and our health care system.”