Texas Ranks 39th in Senior Health

In a new report released by the United Health Foundation, Texas ranks 39th out of all 50 states in overall senior health. This ranking sheds some light on the issues that seniors in Texas currently face.

What Was Measured

Americans are living longer than ever before, but our health just isn’t keeping up. Seniors across the nation are experiencing health issues and needs that may not always be resolved or met. This may be due to economic status, location, lack of transportation, lack of information, or other reasons.

The United Health Foundation used 34 different factors to comprehensively analyze the senior health of each state. The 34 factors measured in the report are of 2 types — determinants and outcomes. Determinants are factors that can affect the future health of the population, whereas outcomes represent what has already occurred either through death or disease. For example, physical inactivity is a determinant while hip fractures are an outcome.

Physical inactivity, poverty, hip fractures, drug coverage, obesity, smoking, premature death rate, and hospital re-admission rates were just some of the factors measured in the report. Texas ranked at the bottom of the list, at number 39 of 50. However, like any state, Texas has its negatives and positives when it comes to senior health.

Texas – What’s the Problem?

Although everything is bigger in Texas, bigger might not be better in all cases. The newly released report found that more than 690,000 adults aged 65 and older in Texas are obese, ranking 33rd in the nation for senior obesity.

The measures in which Texas ranked worst, designated state “challenges”, include a low prevalence of able-bodied seniors and a high prevalence of both activity-limiting arthritis pain and food insecurity. These are three hugely important issues that affect the overall quality of life. The high prevalence of arthritis pain and food insecurity could both play a large role in the low prevalence of able-bodied seniors across the state.

The food that we eat plays a large role in our health, so if seniors are unable to access quality whole foods, their health will suffer. Eating the right foods can affect your arthritis, so it is crucial that those suffering from the disease have reliable food resources.

Community support for seniors was another area that Texas came in low, ranked 48 among 50 states. In addition,  Texas has one of the highest rates of seniors living in poverty at 11.3 percent of adults aged 65 and older. The high food insecurity in the state can be reflected back upon both of these issues. Community support programs for seniors, like those provided by the Area Agencies on Aging in Texas, can help provide resources that seniors would not have had access to otherwise, like Meals on Wheels, Nutritional Counseling, and other services that can help improve senior health and quality of life.

Simply participating in community programs and socially interacting with others can help seniors feel engaged with their surroundings. Benefits of social interaction in your senior years include lower blood pressure, a reduced risk of depression, and a potentially reduced risk of Alzheimer’s and heart disease.

It’s Not All Bad

Although Texas ranked 39th overall, the state still boasts some positives in terms of senior health. The report found that Texas’s strengths included a low prevalence of underweight seniors, a ready availability of home health care workers, and a high percentage of hospice care.

These measures show an indication of a shifting focus to the long term care industry, which is a positive thing for all seniors in Texas. Texas has a quickly growing senior population and the state is adjusting to keep up with this trend. Construction of long term care facilities that focus on memory care is growing in Texas, another indication that the state is catching up with the huge population of seniors.

How to Avoid the Health Crisis

One way to ensure you won’t be dealing with some of the issues facing seniors today is investing in Long Term Care Insurance. This insurance can help you cover the costs of long term care, should you ever need it. Long term care services are for those who have trouble with basic daily tasks, like dressing, bathing, and preparing food. For those Texans with activity-limiting arthritic pain, long term care may be necessary.

If you have a significant amount of assets saved, Long Term Care Insurance can help you protect those assets and provide you with the quality care you deserve. There are a number of great LTCI providers who have longevity in the industry and don’t have a large history of rate increases. Do your research and invest your money in insurance that will help you at the time when you need it most. You worked hard for your nest egg savings and should be able to enjoy retirement without worrying about how to pay for your next health care bill.