“With age comes wisdom, but sometimes age comes alone,” quipped Oscar Wilde more than a century ago.
This old adage may hold true for seniors around the state and nation, when it comes to their health and well being, 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, released last week.
Texas ranked 41st among the 50 states for senior health this year, based on several concerning factors. Among them:
- Physical inactivity among adults 65+ increased 35% this year, from 28.3% to 38.1%
- Chronic drinking among adults 65+ increased 59% this year, from 3.2% to 5.1%
In addition to the behavioral factors, Texas seniors also experienced an 8% increase in food insecurity this year, rising from 18.4% last year to 19.8%, and a lack of quality nursing home beds.
However, the news was not all bad. In fact, Texas seniors scored well in several areas:
- They experienced a 24% decrease in poor mental health days – from 2.5 poor days per month last year to 1.9 days this year.
- Texas seniors saw a 17% decrease in hip fractures this year, from 8.4 last year to 7 hospitalizations per 1,000 Medicare beneficiaries.
- Texas seniors have a lower prevalence of full mouth tooth extraction than those in other states.
- Texas seniors are better than the national average when it comes to obesity, ranking the state 31st in the study.
Moreover, Texas seniors benefit from a ready availability of home health providers.
Though some of the trends are positive, the reality is sobering when we consider that seniors are largest consumers of healthcare – spending about twice as much as adults 45-64 – and that by 2050, the nation’s 65+ population will be nearly double what it was just three years ago.
A whopping 80% of seniors have been diagnosed with at least one chronic condition and half of all seniors have at least two chronic conditions. Though some health conditions are just part of getting older, others are a direct result of choices in behavior.
As Texans face the prospect of aging, we would be wise to increase our physical activity, eat a better diet and cut back on the booze. These choices would make for a healthier, better quality life and demonstrate true wisdom that would earn us better scores in America’s Health Rankings and that might even make Oscar Wilde proud.
Visit americashealthrankings.org for full report details, including downloadable copies and interactive graphs.