Texas ranks 40th in senior health according to the United Health Foundation’s 2019 America’s Health Rankings Senior Report, and scores dead last when it comes to the availability of quality nursing homes. Texas has a low smoking rate that puts it in the top 10 in the country, but still ranks low for obesity and physical activity for the health of its seniors.
The number of seniors has grown 45 percent since 2000, and more than 50 million seniors are living in the United States today. Texas improved one spot since last year, but has hovered around 40th in the country for the last six years according to the rankings. Top ranking states range from Hawaii to Colorado and New Hampshire, and Executive Vice President & Chief Medical Officer of UnitedHealthcare National Markets Dr. Rhonda Randall says that individual choices are often what separates the states with strong senior health from those who don’t.
Places with physically active seniors who don’t smoke add less of a burden to the healthcare system, and the influence of those around you is important. “Where you live matters,” Randall says. “It can influence behavior. If the perception of the community around us is physically active, it has an effect to make physical activity the norm.”
As far as states who don’t score well, which were often in the deep south, things like food insecurity, poverty, and support from the community all had an impact on senior health. Texas had a low smoking rate, but increasing obesity and physical inactivity rates for seniors. The state also experienced a 71 percent increase in depression since last year, which is also impacted by poor social determinants of health. Texas spends $206 annually on low income seniors for home and community based services, ranking it 48th in the country.
Despite being seventh in the country for the number of home health workers, Texas was 50th when it came to quality nursing homes, which is a measurement of senior beds that are ranked four or five stars.
“We want this data to be a call to action,” Randall says. “We would like to see the number of nursing home beds improved.”
Read the full report on Texas here.