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According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2000 the number of adults aged 65 and older was 35.0 million, or 12.4 percent of the total population. In 2016, there were 49.2 million seniors, which was 15.2 percent of the U.S. population. They estimate one in five residents will be over the age of 65 by 2030, and by 2035, seniors will outnumber children younger than 18. As the nation’s baby boomers continue turning 65, it is necessary to monitor trends in senior population health to identify priorities and take action to improve the health and well-being of this growing population.
The 2018 America’s Health Rankings® Senior Report provides a comprehensive look at the health of seniors across the nation and on a state-by-state basis. The report includes 34 core measures of health that are used to rank states. Supplemental measures are also used to highlight current and emerging issues affecting seniors. The measures are obtained from more than a dozen sources including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, the Administration on Aging’s State Program Reports, the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care. This report brings special attention to the persistent rural health gaps or disparities across numerous health measures. And with many measures, the report drills down to expose differences by gender, race/ethnicity, urbanicity, education and income. This examination often reveals differences among groups that national or state aggregate data mask.
America’s Health Rankings Senior Report strives to improve senior population health by:
Providing a benchmark for states. Each year we present strengths, challenges and highlights of every state. This enables states to zoom in on health issues that have the largest impact on senior population health and on state and national changes. Now with America’s Health Rankings Senior Report’s six years of data, community leaders, public health officials and policymakers can monitor health trends over time and compare their state with neighboring states and the nation.
Stimulating action. The purpose of the report is to promote data-driven discussions among individuals, community leaders, the media, policy makers and public health officials that can drive positive change and improve the health of seniors. States are able to incorporate the report into their annual review of programs and many organizations use the report as a reference point when assigning goals for health-improvement programs.
Highlighting disparities. The state rankings show disparities in health between states and among state and national population groups. The report highlights disparities in race/ethnicity, income, gender, educational attainment and urbanicity.
This year, our report includes a special focus on two supplemental measures of senior disconnectedness and despair: risk of social isolation and suicide.
Social isolation is associated with increased consumption of health care resources, risk of mortality and self-reported fair or poor health status. Because social isolation is difficult to measure directly, we created a multifactorial measure to identify locations where seniors experience a higher risk of social isolation. Our findings are highlighted in the Senior Report Spotlight.
The rate of suicide among seniors has increased since the 2014 edition, with a large variation by state. To draw attention to this important public health issue, trend graphs of suicide rates from 2014 to 2018 are included on each state summary.

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