Ohio Shows Progress in Senior Health
Mary Schuermann Kuhlman
COLUMBUS, Ohio – While showing improvements overall, a new report reveals Ohio could be doing more for the physical and mental well-being of its residents over age 60.
Ohio is 30th in the America’s Health Rankings’ “2019 Senior Report,” up from 34th in 2018.
The state stands out for clinical care, ranking 15th, and shows positive marks for the number of home health care workers, use of hospice care and the high prevalence of seniors with a dedicated medical provider.
However, Dr. Rhonda Randall, executive vice president and chief medical officer at United Healthcare, says there are areas of concern, including increased rates of physical inactivity and smoking in recent years.
“Those two unhealthy behaviors really put a significant burden on the lives of individuals, the communities where they live and the health care system,” she stresses.
Randall adds obesity is another persistent issue, affecting one in three Ohioans ages 65-plus.
The report says other areas that need improvement include preventable hospitalizations, the number of early deaths, and diabetes management for people in the Medicare system.
More older adults are struggling with mental health issues, as the percentage of seniors diagnosed with depression by a health professional has increased by 15% in the past year nationally. Randall says in Ohio, it rose 15%.
“There’s definitely correlations with depression and things like physical illness, chronic diseases, medication use, alcohol consumption, loss of a loved one and social support,” she states. “We also look at social isolation.”
The number of older Americans has increased by 45% since 2000.
Randall points out as a large swath of the population ages, looking at the issues that most affect seniors is critical for health care providers, families and caregivers.
“There’s been a significant demographic shift in the United States,” she points out. “There’s more than 50 million seniors living in the United States.
“And so, as that population grows, it really makes us want to take a deeper look into the behaviors that individual seniors are engaged in, in the community.”
Another highlight for Ohio – the state comes in first nationally for the percentage of Medicare enrollees age 65 and older who have a good prescription drug plan that fits their needs.
An Ohio News Connection story.