It’s no surprise that the retirement population will be increasing as Baby Boomers enter retirement. In fact, America’s Health Rankings have boldly stated that the senior population is expected to double within the next 25 years, making senior health improvements more important than ever.
The 2014 Senior Report released this month ranks Minnesota as the best state in senior health for the second year in a row. The rankings represent a comprehensive measure of health that incorporates diabetes, obesity, binge drinking, physical inactivity, and education rates to evaluate the overall health status of the seniors in a particular state.
Minnesota tops the list of healthiest states:
- New Hampshire
Minnesotan seniors lead the country with the highest percentage of dental visits complemented with the least food insecurity, the most access to home care providers, and the lowest number of seniors who experience cognitive difficulties in comparison to the rest of the country. Minnesota boasts the highest percentage of mobile seniors as well.
One concerning disparity among older adults, is that even in Minnesota, there are significant differences in the health of seniors with and without a college education. 59.2% of seniors in Minnesota report their health as very good or excellent in comparison to only 25.2% of seniors who report these same levels of health, but did not receive a high school diploma. Even though lower education levels do not cause poorer health, the data indicates that there is certainly a correlation between health and education.
On the opposite end of the list, Mississippi ranks 50th in overall health rankings for 2014. Unlike Minnesota, Mississippi struggles with a low percentage of dental visits and recommended hospital care, but the Magnolia state hurts the most by having the highest percentage of seniors living in poverty. In fact, Mississippi ranks 50th in the clinical care category of the report which includes home health care. While Minnesota ranks number 1, having the lowest percentage of seniors with cognitive difficulties, Mississippi is a different extreme having the highest percentage of seniors with cognitive difficulties in the country.
No matter what state you reside in, this report makes you realize that you are not alone. Even states with the highest overall health status face annual increases in obesity, high levels of physical inactivity, and inadequate access to home-care providers. On the bright side, senior inactivity has decreased from last year with physical inactivity decreasing from 30.3% to 28.7% of the senior population considered inactive. But this is not enough.
The good news is that these reports are compiled to address areas of improvement for health especially focusing on the growing senior population. The report is meant for seniors, their families, and their clinicians to create greater transparency so that preventative action can be taken to improve senior health in all categories, in all states.
Maintaining good health practices is going to dictate your independence in retirement and the length of time that you can continue to live in your home. Maintaining a good relationship with your doctor, taking advantage of online “e-health” services, and engaging in programs to keep your cognitive skills sharp, are ways to increase your longevity in addition to maintaining a healthy diet and remaining physically active.
Don’t let your finances get in the way of your health. A reverse mortgage could be the loan you need to help you live a more comfortable retirement. A reverse mortgage loan is designed for senior homeowners 62 and older who have sufficient equity in their home. The loan is designed to be used in the any way the homeowner sees fit. This could mean that the tax-free cash* from a reverse mortgage be used to pay medical bills and insurance or to update your home to meet your retirement needs. Whatever the reason, a reverse mortgage could provide you with the funds needed for you to live your longest, and healthiest retirement.
We’d love to know…does the ranking accurately represent your state? What does your state do to improve senior health?
Please consult with your financial advisor.