NEWS

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Molly Sparksexaminer-enterprise

America’s Health Ranking released a study last week that ranks Oklahoma as 47th in the nation for overall senior health.

Oklahoma was ranked 49th in the 2013 edition of the study, and this year’s higher ranking is due primarily to a significant increase in the state’s overall awareness and attempts to reform senior care.

According to the report, Oklahoma has one of the highest rates of physical inactivity among seniors in the country, accounting for 36.7 percent or 189,000 seniors in the state who are physically inactive.

The state’s strengths include low prevalence of chronic drinking, a high percentage of dedicated health care providers, ans a high flu vaccination coverage.

Some of the challenges Oklahoma faces in senior health are a high prevalence of physical inactivity — though less than in last year’s study — a low percentage of recommended hospital care, and the highest prevalence of hip fractures in the nation.

Nearly 60 percent of seniors with an income greater than $75,000 report their health is very good or excellent compared to roughly 24 percent of seniors with an income of less than $25,000, which accounts for the most striking percentage difference in the state’s report.

In 2013, Oklahoma was ranked 22nd for flu vaccines for seniors; this year, Oklahoma has climbed to 5th with nearly 68 percent of senior adults having received vaccinations. For every 1,000 Medicare beneficiaries, however, Oklahoma has 9.2 hip fractures — landing Oklahoma in 50th place.

Oklahoma also climbed from 50th place to 46th for health screenings among senior adults, with just over 80 percent of adults receiving screening, lagging behind the 1st place state by more than 15 percent.

Minnesota is currently considered the healthiest state for seniors, according to the American Health Ranking, with Hawaii, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts close behind.

Mississippi is the least healthy state for seniors, followed by Louisiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.

Oklahoma is ranked second in chronic drinking among senior adults, with only 1.9 percent. The first-ranked state has 1.7 percent.

More information on the America’s Health Rankings Senior Report can be found online at americashealthrankings.org/senior, and Oklahome’a state health department website is ok.gov/health.