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The 10th edition of the America’s Health Rankings® Senior Report reviews decade-long trends and provides insight into the preliminary effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on seniors’ health and well-being. The majority of measures included in this report feature data from 2020 or later.

The United Health Foundation is proud to release the 10th edition of the America’s Health Rankings Senior Report, which provides a portrait of the health and well-being of older adults in the United States. The report features long-term trends and disparities across demographic subpopulations in order to spark meaningful dialogue and action to improve senior health across the nation and on a state-by-state basis.
The 2022 Senior Report highlights 10 years of successes and challenges in the health and well-being of older adults. While self-reported health status and use of preventive services such as flu vaccinations improved over the past decade, behavioral health measures such as drug deaths, excessive drinking, frequent mental distress, depression and suicide have worsened. Further, a decade of progress in reducing early mortality stopped with the COVID-19 pandemic — disproportionately impacting older Americans of color.
In 2020, there were more than 55.6 million adults ages 65 and older in the United States, making up approximately 16.9% of the population. This number is expected to rise to 73.1 million, or 21% of the population, by 2030 when the last of the baby boomer generation ages into older adulthood. At that point, more than 1 in 5 people in the U.S. will be of retirement age. Thus, it is essential that policymakers, community leaders and public health officials consider how to best safeguard and improve the health of older Americans. As the demographic makeup of the nation’s older adult population continues to change, the United Health Foundation is committed to providing actionable data and insights on the health needs of older Americans.
While the older adult population is growing across the nation, they comprise a much larger share of the population in some states than in others. In 2020, Maine had the highest proportion of adults ages 65 and older (21.8%) and Utah had the lowest (11.7%). No matter the size of the senior population, strengths, challenges and disparities are present in every state, demonstrated by the findings in this report. It is important to consider the measures collectively, as each measure influences and is influenced by other measures of health as well as factors that affect seniors’ everyday lives.
This year’s Senior Report includes overall state rankings once again; rankings were excluded in 2020 and 2021 out of the shared understanding that the country is facing significant and unprecedented health challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Community leaders and advocates can use this year’s report to tailor and target public health efforts in their states to address issues caused or exacerbated by the pandemic and, ultimately, build healthier communities.

Objective

America’s Health Rankings aims to inform and drive action to build healthier communities by offering credible, trusted data that can guide efforts to improve health and health care. To achieve this, a comprehensive set of measures were analyzed to assess the health of older adults across the nation. The report is based on:
  • Sixty-two measures. These include 37 ranking, 14 non-ranking and 11 subcomponent measures.
  • Five categories of health. These include health outcomes and four categories that are determinants of health: social and economic factors, physical environment, behaviors and clinical care.
  • Twenty-one data sources. The data included in this report are from many different sources, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Mapping Medicare Disparities Tool.

The report is intended to drive change and improve health by promoting data-driven discussions among individuals, community leaders, public health workers, policymakers and the media.

The America’s Health Rankings Senior Report aims to improve population health by:
  • Presenting a holistic view of health. This report goes beyond measures of clinical care and health behaviors by considering social, economic and physical environment measures. This reflects a growing understanding of the impact of social determinants on health.
  • Providing a benchmark for states. Each year the report presents trends, strengths, challenges and highlights for every state. Using the 10 years of data analyzed in the America’s Health Rankings Senior Report, public health advocates can monitor health trends over time and compare their state with neighboring states and the nation. This year, state summaries are available on the website as a separate download.
  • Stimulating action. The report is intended to drive change and improve health by promoting data-driven discussions among individuals, community leaders, public health workers, policymakers and the media. States can incorporate the report into their annual review of programs, and many organizations use the report as a reference when assigning goals for health improvement plans.
  • Highlighting disparities. The report shows differences in health between states and among population groups at the state and national level, with groupings based on geography, education level, income level, gender, age, and race and ethnicity. These analyses often reveal differences among groups that national or state aggregate data may mask.

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