Cape Gazette
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Delaware ranks 12th for senior health

Findings emphasize need to prepare for Delaware’s growing senior population
Jun 04, 2013

Delaware is ranked 12th for senior health, according to the inaugural edition of United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings Senior Report: A Call to Action for Individuals and Their Communities. The survey had some good news for Delaware seniors, including the highest percentage of seniors with personal doctors in the nation, but also reflected areas that need improvement, such as a high rate of obesity among seniors.

United Health Foundation commissioned the America’s Health Rankings Senior Report to examine the health challenges affecting today’s seniors and to encourage the nation and local communities to find ways to improve senior health. Americans are living longer but sicker lives, and America’s senior population is poised to grow more than 50 percent between 2015 and 2030, making senior health a timely and critical national issue.

The America’s Health Rankings Senior Report is the most comprehensive ranking to date of senior health on state and national levels and can be viewed and downloaded at www.americashealthrankings.org. This report builds on the annual America’s Health Rankings report which, for 23 years, has presented the definitive 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.

“United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings Senior Report is a highly valuable tool to help gain a greater understanding of the health challenges faced by Delaware’s seniors,” said Philip Benditt, MD, medical director, UnitedHealthcare. “Delaware’s growing senior population points to the urgency of identifying key opportunities for improving senior health and pursuing effective solutions at the national, state, community and family levels.”

The America’s Health Rankings Senior Report assesses state-level performance on 34 different elements, including both health determinants and health outcomes.

Delaware’s strengths

Delaware seniors report the highest rate in the nation for dedicated healthcare providers, with 96.8 percent of seniors having a personal doctor or healthcare provider.

Arthritis pain: 58.6 percent of Delaware residents age 65 and older report that arthritis and joint pain does not limit their usual activities, the third best rate in the country.

Poverty and food insecurity: 6.7 percent of Delaware seniors live in poverty, the sixth lowest rate in the nation, and 8.9 percent experience food insecurity, the fifth lowest rate.

Health screenings: 90.8 percent of Delaware seniors get appropriate health screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopies at the recommended intervals, the third highest rate in the nation.

Delaware’s challenges

Obesity: 28.9 percent of Delaware residents 65 or older are obese, the fifth highest percentage in the country

Home healthcare workers: With only 46.8 home healthcare workers per 1,000 adults age 75+, Delaware ranks 45th in the U.S. The best state, Alaska, has more than six times as many workers per 1,000.

ICU usage: 16.3 percent of Delaware seniors spend seven days or more in an intensive care unit during the last six months of life, the 42nd worst rate in the country.

Through its portfolio of Medicare plans, UnitedHealthcare supports Medicare beneficiaries in Delaware with clinical solutions that help address health concerns underscored in the America’s Health Rankings Senior Report. These programs include:

• Integrated disease management and care coordination programs, which provide select Medicare Advantage plan members who have chronic health conditions such as diabetes or certain types of heart disease with needed resources and support.

• UnitedHealthcare’s PharmAssist service, which provides select Medicare Advantage plan members with one-on-one counseling sessions with specialty trained plan pharmacists to understand how to take their medications as prescribed.

For more information, visit www.americashealthrankings.org.

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