Louisiana Ranks 50th for Senior Health

According to Annual America’s Health Rankings® Senior Report

  •  Comprehensive analysis of senior health reveals strengths, challenges in Louisiana

  •  Seniors are experiencing lower hospital readmission and preventable hospitalization rates; and more often able to spend their final days in settings of their choice

  •  Troubling note: one-third of seniors were physically inactive in 2015, worsening after improvements last year

NEW ORLEANS, LA (May 20, 2015) – Louisiana ranked 50th for senior health this year, according to the third edition of United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings® Senior Report: A Call to Action for Individuals and Their Communities.

Nationwide, the report shows positive trends for senior health, especially for those measures that look at whether seniors are getting the right care in a setting of their choice. Seniors are experiencing lower hospital readmission rates and preventable hospitalization rates compared to last year, while hospice care use and the number of home healthcare workers have increased.

“United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings Senior Report is a vital tool for understanding where we, as a state, are making strides in senior health and where key challenges for Louisiana’s seniors remain,” said Dr. Penny S. Walker, senior medical director, UnitedHealthcare-Southeast Region. “With America’s senior population poised to double by 2050, we must continue to invest in programs and solutions that address our seniors’ health needs and help them live the best lives they possibly can.”

Louisiana's Overall Health

The America’s Health Rankings Senior Report finds that Louisiana has its share of strengths and challenges.

Louisiana's Strengths

  • High flu vaccination coverage

  • Ready availability of home health care providers

  • Low prevalence of falls

Louisiana's Challenges

  •  Low percentage of dental visits

  •  High prevalence of food insecurity

  •  High percentage of low-care nursing home residents

50-State Snapshot: Vermont is the Healthiest State for Seniors

According to the report, Vermont is the healthiest state for seniors, rising from fourth place last year. New Hampshire ranks second, improving one spot from last year. Minnesota fell to third after being ranked first for two years in a row, while Hawaii (4) and Utah (5) round out the top five states. Louisiana ranks 50th as the least healthy state for older adults, followed by Mississippi (49), Kentucky (48), Arkansas (47)

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

Report Highlights Nationwide Improvements in Care Trends

The report shows that seniors are improving in key care trends, particularly in metrics that examine whether seniors are getting the right care in the setting of their choice, pointing to a health system that may be working better for seniors.

Key findings include:

  • Preventable hospitalizations dropped 8.6 percent, from 64.9 percent of discharges for Medicare beneficiaries last year to 59.3 percent of discharges in 2015. The decrease marks an 11 percent decline in preventable hospitalizations since the 2013 edition.

  •  More seniors are spending their last days in the setting they prefer. Hospice care – which can be delivered in a home setting – increased from 47.5 percent to 50.6 percent of decedents aged 65 and older, while hospital deaths decreased from 25 percent to 22.8 percent of decedents. Hospice care rose 38 percent since the report’s inception in 2013.

  •  The number of home health care workers increased 9.3 percent compared to last year, which may indicate that home care is an increasingly accessible option for today’s seniors.

  •  More seniors received the flu vaccine compared to last year, rising from 60.1 percent of seniors in 2014 to 62.8 percent this year. Seniors are particularly susceptible to flu and flu-related complications, making it vital that they receive the vaccine each year.

  •  Seniors are reporting feeling better. The findings showed a 4.8 percent increase in self-reported high health status to 41.8 percent this year, contributing to a 9 percent increase over the past two years.

“It is heartening to see seniors’ health is improving, but our societal challenge remains finding ways to encourage more seniors to be more active,” said Rhonda Randall, D.O., senior adviser to United Health Foundation, and chief medical officer and executive vice president, UnitedHealthcare Retiree Solutions. “Strong community support is an essential part of promoting positive health among seniors. We must work together – across states, communities and our own families – to encourage all seniors to find ways to be as active as they’re able to be.”

Physical inactivity worsens; unhealthy lifestyle behaviors pose long-term challenges

After showing promising improvements in last year’s edition, physical inactivity rates increased in 2015; one-third of seniors (33.1 percent) did not get any physical activity or exercise outside of work, marking a 15.3 percent increase from the previous year (28.7 percent). Other worrisome trends for senior health

  •  37.6 percent of seniors have four or more chronic conditions;

  •  26.7 percent of seniors are obese;

  •  8.7 percent of seniors smoke; and

  • 16.1 percent of seniors have had all of their teeth removed due to tooth decay or gum disease.

In addition, despite promising gains in end-of-life care metrics, community support spending per capita for seniors – support that helps older adults stay in their homes – has declined by 23.9 percent in the past two years.

“Progress in key metrics such as preventable hospitalizations and hospice care show that more seniors are aging comfortably and receiving preferred types of support – a trend that not only benefits our health care system but helps ensure seniors’ wellbeing at each step of the aging process,” said Reed Tuckson, M.D., senior medical adviser to United Health Foundation. “We are excited to be making progress toward strong, personalized care for all seniors and look forward to seeing continued momentum in this area.”

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

About America’s Health Rankings Senior Report

America’s Health Rankings Senior Report: A Call to Action for Individuals and Their Communities

offers a comprehensive analysis of senior population health on a national and state-by-state basis across 35 measures of senior health. In commissioning the report, United Health Foundation seeks to promote discussion around the health of older Americans while driving communities, governments, stakeholders and individuals to take action to improve senior health.

Researchers draw data from more than 12 government agencies and leading research organizations to create a focused, uniquely rich dataset for measuring senior health at the state level, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Department of Labor, The Dartmouth Atlas Project, the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger and the United Health Foundation also produces the annual America’s Health Rankings report. For 25 years, America’s Health Rankings has provided an analysis of national health on a state-by-state basis by evaluating a historical and comprehensive set of health, environmental and socioeconomic data to determine national health benchmarks and state rankings. The Rankings employs a unique methodology, developed and annually reviewed by a Scientific Advisory Committee of leading public health scholars.

The America’s Health Rankings Senior Report and the America’s Health Rankings Report are designed to identify health opportunities in communities as well as multistakeholder, multidisciplinary approaches to improving the health of the population. Through its programs and grants, United Health Foundation puts a spotlight on the health of America while promoting evidence-based solutions and means to improve it. To learn more about America’s Health Rankings – and to get information on how to help improve community health – visit www.americashealthrankings.org.

About UnitedHealthcare UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the

health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 800,000 physicians and care professionals, and 6,000 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company.


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