UPDATED at 11.21 a.m. to include a Florida Department of Health response. Florida does so much right, it's hard to believe it could fall down on something as important to its identity as senior-citizen health care. But, according to a new report, the Sunshine State, the nation's leading retirement magnet, ranks 31 among the 50 states in the health of its over-65 population.
What's so alarming about the numbers in the 2018 America’s Health Rankings Senior Report is that in the 2010 Census, nearly 17.3 percent of Florida’s population was age 65 or older -- that's the highest proportion of any state.
Sheer numbers alone give Florida an obligation to its senior population.
Among key findings are that seniors in rural areas are 13 percent more likely to be physically inactive (34.3 percent) compared to their peers living in suburban (30.4 percent) and urban areas (30.1 percent).
And seniors in rural areas are 7 percent less likely to receive the flu vaccination (57.2 percent) than urban seniors (61.4 percent). Numbers of flu vaccinations among adults 65+ did pick up since 2017, from 51.4 percent to 57.6 percent of seniors receiving the shots.
First, the report's good news. Florida's top rankings include --
- A ranking of first in diabetes management at 84.8 percent, compared to the national average of 79.5 percent.
- A second in fewest falls among seniors, at 25.3 percent, just behind Hawaii and better than the national average of 29.5 percent.
- A fourth in Hospice care at 61.2 percent -- Arizona was tops at 65.8 percent and the national average was 52 percent.
- A tie for eighth in prescription drug coverage, at 87 percent -- the same as the national average.
But, here comes the bad news. Florida ranked --
- Last in the number of home health care workers per 1,000 residents over age 75 at 27.9. The national average was 112.3, and No. 1 Alaska has 264.2
- 49th (second highest) in the use of ICUs care prior to death for those over the age of 65 20.2 percent, more than 50 percent higher than the national average of 14 percent.
- 47th in senior volunteerism -- 18.7 percent, compared to a national average of 26 percent.
- 44th in excessive drinking -- Florida 8.7 percent, national average 7.1 percent.
- 44th in home-delivered meals -- Florida 5.1 per 1,000, national average 9.1.
- 44th in hospital readmissions -- Florida 15.5 percent, national average 14.9 percent
- 42nd in poverty among seniors -- Florida 10.4 percent, national average 9.2 percent
Have a look at the full report here.
Even in AARP's WalletHub rankings of "Best States to Retire," Florida tops the list for "best overall," yet includes this caveat: "While (Florida is) ranked No. 1 in affordability ... WalletHub ranked it 20th for health care."
"DOH is committed to the health of Florida’s seniors as reflected in our new State Health Improvement Plan (SHIP), DOH Interim Communications Director Devin Galetta told Sunshine State News. "The first priority in the SHIP is health equity and a primary goal is to strengthen the capacity of state and local agencies and other organizations to work collaboratively with communities and each other to support the specific needs of Florida’s most vulnerable populations, including seniors."
Senior Report writers claim it was developed with guidance from an advisory committee of leading aging and senior health experts. Chief among them is Rhonda Randall, D.O., senior adviser to the United Health Foundation and chief medical officer and executive vice president, UnitedHealthcare Retiree Solutions.
Reach Nancy Smith at email@example.com or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith
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