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  • Massachusetts tops the list as healthiest state for older adults (Figure 4, Tables 1 and 2). Smoking decreased 20% since last year, which moves Massachusetts up 20 places in the ranking of that measure. Physical inactivity decreased 12%. However, flu vaccination coverage decreased 13% in the last year.
  • The top six states (Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Hawaii, and Utah) are a step above the other states and are virtually tied for the top place in the rankings (Figure 5). These states are uniformly high among the outcome measures but show variation in behaviors, community & environment, policy, and clinical care.
  • Louisiana is 50th again this year. The state’s strengths are high flu vaccination coverage, low prevalence of falls and ready availability of home health care workers. A high prevalence of smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity remain yearly challenges. In the past year, annual dental visits increased 12% and full-mouth teeth extractions decreased 29%.
  • Oklahoma, like Louisiana, is a step below the other bottom states. Kentucky, West Virginia, Arkansas, and Mississippi round out the bottom six states—these four states have similar overall scores (Figure 5) and are comparable in their senior health.

How to Use America’s Health Rankings®

America’s Health Rankings® Senior Report is about digging deeper, digesting data, and then doing something that will improve state health. The rankings are important, but they are only a starting point. Here are general guidelines about using the rankings if the state:
  • Shows no change. Check the measures because it may be that there has been a notable change in one or more measures that has been offset by equally notable changes in the opposite direction by other measures. Or it may be that there have been changes but, relative to changes in other states, there’s no change in the overall rank.
  • Shows little change. Check the measures. A big shift in a measure or two may be masked by an abundance of smaller shifts with other measures.
  • Shows big change. Again, investigate further to see what’s driving the change.
The strengths, challenges, and highlights for each state are described on the state summary page in this book and on the website (www.americashealthrankings/senior/state). Once the investigation is complete, use this information to take action.

Figure 5 - Overall Score by State

Figure 5 shows the overall score for each state (methodology page 140). It demonstrates that several states have similar scores with clusters around the top six ranks (Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Hawaii, and Utah); around Washington, Rhode Island, Oregon, Wisconsin, and Maryland; around Alaska, Delaware, New York, and Florida; and around Kentucky, West Virginia, Arkansas, and Mississippi.

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