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Texas ranks 41st for seniors in America’s Health Rankings

Senior Health Rankings

“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.

Kid comedians wanted for World Smile Day joke book

Girl telling a funny joke

Is your kid the silliest in San Antonio? The most hilarious in Houston? A young Dangerfield in Dallas? If so, we want their best whoppers for UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation’s annual joke book.

The joke book, which features riddles and knock-knock jokes for kids by kids around the United States, is released each year on World Smile Day (October 2). Last year’s Little UHCCF Joke Book coverBook – Big Laughs Joke Book had more than 600 jokes.

We’re collecting jokes from kids 17 and under until May 31, so there’s still time to enter online (with parent or guardian permission).

The books, which will be sold on Amazon and UHCCF’s Online Store, help generate important grant funds…and of course, smiles.

Knock Knock. Who’s there? Orange. Orange you going to submit your joke?

– Bailey McGowan, KENS 5 TV
(A grown-up in San Antonio)

More details at www.uhccf.org/news-events/submit-a-joke/

 

UnitedHealthcare joins Hunger Free Texans in effort to foster healthy communities

In the midst of unbridled economic growth and opportunities across the great state of Texas, there are still people who go hungry in 2015.

As difficult as it may be to stomach, a staggering one in five Texas households – 18.4 percent – experience food insecurity, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, making it the second highest state in terms of the number of food insecure households. Food insecurity means that a household does not have consistent access to adequate food, due to their limited financial means, transportation or other resources.

UnitedHealthcare Texas recently joined hands with Hunger Free Texans in an effort to address this problem, sponsoring the organization’s annual conference in Houston in April.

Hunger Free Texans is a nonprofit health and wellness organization whose mission is keeping members of the public well by reducing hunger and increasing health and nutrition in Texas through collective impact and education. The organization provides free educational conferences for nonprofits, public sector organizations and others on topics, providing knowledge from experts in the areas of food, nutrition, health/wellness and healthy communities.

“Everything stems from food and diet,” noted Hunger Free Texans President Aaron Herrera during an interview with KPRC television in Houston.

Since convening its first conference just three years ago, Hunger Free Texans has equipped more than 1,300 organizations around Texas with the knowledge they need to address the state’s hunger problem.

In April, more than 150 leaders from food, nutrition, health and wellness organizations across the state participated in a number of breakout educational sessions, including:

  • Using healthy food to manage heart disease and chronic illnesses
  • Nutrition for people working with children and families
  • Healthy foods in schools
  • Managing the diets of senior citizens
  • Eating organic
  • Food’s role in stress reduction.

Though the Hunger Free Texans was initially focused on food access, it has since expanded its focus to include nutrition and health – areas that are of particular interest to UnitedHealthcare, whose mission is helping people live healthier lives and helping make the health system work better for everyone.

To learn more about Hunger Free Texans, visit www.hungerfreetexans.org.