Despite recent improvements in some areas, the next generation of seniors will face significant health challenges and likely be sicker than the current generation. The update comes in a new report by the United Health Foundation that compares Americans age 50 to 64 to those in the same age bracket from roughly 17 years ago.
According to the report, titled America’s Health Rankings® Senior Report, since 1999 the prevalence of obesity among middle-aged adults has increased by 25 percent and the number of middle-aged adults with diabetes has risen by 55 percent. Both factors are likely to impact the overall well-being of the next group of seniors.
According to Dr. Rhonda Randall, senior adviser to United Health Foundation, the report is a call to action. “We must work together—across states, communities and the public health sector—to find ways to continue improving delivery of care to seniors and encourage wellness and health among both current and future seniors.”
The report also looked at the healthiest states for older adults, with Massachusetts ranking as the healthiest state and Louisiana coming in last, based on health measures such as nutrition, physical inactivity, mental health, falls, preventable hospitalizations, alcohol and tobacco use, and prescription drug coverage.
On a positive note, the number of preventable hospitalizations has decreased by roughly 9 percent in the last year, and there has been an increase in the availability of qualified home health care workers. In addition, over the past three years there has been a 7 percent increase in the number of adults over 65 who are in “very good” or “excellent” health.