Report finds seniors improving in key measures of health

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The health of American seniors is improving, and so is the quality of care in U.S. nursing homes, according to findings from the United Health Foundation.

Its second annual America Health Rankings Senior Report found that elderly individuals were more active than the year before, while the percentage of nursing homes with four or five stars (the highest possible) in the federal government's ranking system grew from 42% to 46.8%.

"We commissioned this report to understand and identify ways to improve seniors' health because Americans are living longer and the senior population will double in size over the next 25 years," said Reed Tuckson, M.D., senior medical adviser to United Health Foundation. "It's time to shift our focus from how long Americans are living, to how well we're living.”

Preventable hospital admissions fell from 66.6 per 1,000 Medicare beneficiaries to 64.9 over the last year.

It also found that Minnesota, Hawaii and New Hampshire are the healthiest states for seniors, while Mississippi, Louisiana and Kentucky are the least healthy. Minnesota's strengths included a high percentage of quality nursing home beds, a high percentage of prescription drug coverage and good availability of home healthcare workers.

The report also identified significant obstacles to seniors' overall health rates. They include obesity and numerous chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

To see the 112-page report with the full rankings, click here. It examines health measures on a national and state-by-state basis across 34 measures of senior health. 


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