The United Health Foundation, a nonprofit organization that is focused on improving healthcare and overall health, published its third annual report earlier this year that analyzes how well each state across the country is taking care of their seniors. Based on thirty-five different benchmarks, the study breaks down each individual state’s strengths and weaknesses for various elder care needs in addition to comparing states as a whole.
Elder Care in the United States
Almost one in seven citizens in the United States is now 65 years old or older, and the need for quality checks on our nation’s elder care system is increasing. By 2030, it is estimated that over one-fifth of the country’s population will be elderly. By 2050, it is estimated that nearly 83.7 million people will be 65 years old or older, more than double the elderly population in 2012.
As a result, elder care needs threaten to swamp the existing healthcare system in America at both state and national levels. The massive increase in the number of elderly has the potential to impact Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other state and federal elder care programs. Unfortunately, the states that are expected to see the greatest increase in senior population also have some of the worst levels of care for the elderly in the United Health Foundation report.
Elder Care Report Results
Some of the highlights of the foundation’s report show that Vermont is now considered the healthiest state for seniors with a decrease in chronic alcoholism as well as increases in quality of hospice care, mental health days, and community support. Other top states for elder care include New Hampshire, Minnesota, Hawaii, Utah, Massachusetts, and Iowa. On the other side of the spectrum, Louisiana ranks as the state with the worst level of senior care in the country. Other states at the bottom of spectrum for senior care include Mississippi, Kentucky, Arizona, Oklahoma, and West Virginia.
New York was ranked 21st across the country for its quality of elder care by the United Health Foundation study. Among the strengths highlighted, New York has seen a decrease in the numbers of seniors smoking, high SNAP enrollment, and a ready availability of home healthcare providers. Unfortunately, the state is facing challenges with a high percentage of seniors in poverty, low volunteerism rates, and a higher percentage of hospital deaths.
In addition, New York saw an increase of seniors receiving a flu vaccination by thirteen percent to 62.2% last year, and smoking among the elderly in New York has decreased twenty percent from 8.1% to 6.5%. The average poor mental health days among seniors across the state also decreased 22% from 3.2 to 2.5 days per month. However, hospice care in New York increased last year by ten percent to 31.7% of decedents that were elderly and food insecurity for seniors also increased across the state by six percent to 15.7% of seniors over the age of sixty years old.