Covering Louisiana

May 21, 2014 4:37 PM by Dave Fields

Study shows senior health care improves nationally, but Louisiana 49th overall

Although a nationwide study shows a general positive national trend in senior health care, Louisiana ranked 49th overall.

Nationally, the United Health Foundation's America's Health Rankings Senior Report indicates declines in physical inactivity, improvements in quality of nursing home care, reductions in avoidable hospitalizations, and increased preparation for end-of-life care.

"United Health Foundation's America's Health Rankings Senior Report is a valuable tool for measuring and understanding the key challenges and opportunities facing Louisiana's senior population. With the senior population expected to double in size in the next 25 years, it is important that we develop effective programs and solutions that address seniors' health needs in Louisiana and nationwide," said Dr. Penny Walker, Senior Medical Director, UnitedHealthcare-Southeast Region.

According to the study, Louisiana had the highest prevalence of obesity and the lowest percentage of quality nursing home beds. The state also was cited for its high rate of teeth extractions.

However, the study noted that Louisiana performed well in the ready availability of home health care workers. The state also had a low prevalence of falls by seniors as well as a low prevalence of underweight seniors.

Nationally, the study rated Minnesota as the healthiest state for seniors for the second year in a row. Hawaii ranked second, followed by New Hampshire (3), Vermont (4) and Massachusetts (5). Mississippi is the least healthy state for seniors, followed by Louisiana (49), Kentucky (48), Oklahoma (47) and Arkansas (46).

To see the Rankings in full, visit: www.americashealthrankings.org/senior

Nationwide: Seniors Progress in Key Health Measures The report shows that seniors are more active compared to last year, with physical inactivity declining from 30.3 percent of the senior population to 28.7 percent. Other notable gains for senior health include a reduction in preventable hospitalizations, dropping from 66.6 discharges per 1,000 Medicare beneficiaries to 64.9 discharges, and improvements in nursing home care, with quality nursing home beds rising from 42 percent of beds rated four or five stars to 46.8 percent. In addition, more seniors are planning for and using their preferred end-of-life care. The report shows utilization of hospice care increasing from 36.7 percent to 47.5 percent among seniors in need of late-stage care.

The study noted concerns with the projected doubling of senior population growth during the next quarter-century and suggested that local communities attempt to address target concerns for seniors in the years ahead. The research suggested that more than 35 percent have four or more chronic conditions, while more than 25 percent of seniors are obese and 28 percent are physically inactive. Only about 60 percent of seniors, according to the report, received the flu vaccine in the last 12 months. Furthermore, it also was noted with urgency that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention projects that adults will account for roughly 20 percent of the U.S. population by 2030.

 

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