Monday, December 18, 2017
Health

Florida's health rankings for seniors are mixed

Floridians may be living longer but not necessarily better, according to a new state-by-state report on seniors out Thursday from America's Health Rankings.

Although the Sunshine State ranked 30th overall, the first-time report noted some worrisome trends.

For instance, Florida came in last for its high percentage of seniors with more than one chronic health condition, and next to last in chronic drinking.

The inaugural report was commissioned by the United Health Foundation and builds on the annual America's Health Rankings report, which has been coming out for 23 years.

"The America's Health Rankings Senior Report is a comprehensive portrait of senior health designed to inspire new, effective solutions that meet the health care needs of this rapidly expanding demographic," said Dr. Reed Tuckson, senior adviser to the United Health Foundation.

In Florida, nearly 44 percent of seniors have more than one chronic health problem, compared with only 21 percent in Alaska, which ranked first in this category.

Florida also ranked poorly, at 49th, for its high number of chronic alcohol drinkers older than 65, another habit that bodes ill for long-term health. Researchers defined heavy drinking as having 60 or more drinks in the past 30 days for men, and 30 drinks in as many days for women.

On the plus side, Floridians came in first for diabetes management and also earned good scores for keeping up with their health screenings. Florida also had a relatively low rate of seniors who smoke (ninth place); and had ample hospice care.

Billed as "A Call to Action for Individuals and Their Communities," the report looked at 34 measures of senior health, drawing on government data from the Department of Health and Human Services and 11 other agencies.

The report was prompted by the huge change in demographics the United States will face in the next 15 years, said Dr. Rhonda Randall, senior adviser to the United Health Foundation and chief medical officer for UnitedHealthcare Medicare and Retirement.

"We wanted to give states some measurable metrics so they can be informed of actions they can take in the short and long term," she said.

This is especially critical for Florida, where the 65-plus population is projected to increase by 88 percent during the next 15 years — the third-fastest increase of any state.

Nationwide, that demographic is expected to grow 53 percent during that time.

Dr. David Smuckler, geriatrician and medical director of Orlando Health Center for Aging, said he and other clinicians will "look at the findings that make us pause and evaluate whether we are addressing those issues in our practice."

The report could also help program administrators know where to spend their resources, said Dr. Ariel Cole, geriatrician and practice director for the Centre for Aging and Wellness at Florida Hospital.

"Maybe we shouldn't spend as much on smoking-cessation programs and spend more on alcohol prevention and reduction," Cole said.

Helping providers reallocate resources is an important part of the report, as is raising awareness of the expanding needs for this growing population, Randall said.

Nationwide, Minnesota took the top spot for healthiest state for seniors, followed by Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Iowa.

Conversely, the least healthy states for seniors were Mississippi, which ranked last, followed by Oklahoma, Louisiana, West Virginia and Arkansas.

Mississippi's challenges include a high percentage of seniors who live in poverty and are at risk of hunger, and a low percentage who report good health.

The health of the nation's seniors affects everyone, said Randall, because taxpayers pay for their care through Medicare.

Annual spending on Medicare is expected to increase by 90 percent in the next decade, from $557 billion this year to more than $1 trillion in 2023, according to estimates this month from the Congressional Budget Office.

Comments
Pigs can be therapy animals too. So can horses and rats and cats and llamas and … (w/video)

Pigs can be therapy animals too. So can horses and rats and cats and llamas and … (w/video)

Shrieks of laughter echoed off the walls of the hospital as Thunder the mini pig flopped onto his side and the children huddled around him, scratching his pink, hairy belly. He and his wet-nosed partner, Bolt, drew patients in wheelchairs and bandage...
Published: 12/15/17
Obamacare enrollment ends today, but some can get an extension

Obamacare enrollment ends today, but some can get an extension

Today is the day that open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act will close for most people. But those affected by the slew of hurricanes that pummelled Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico and other states earlier this year can take advantage of a two-week ...
Published: 12/15/17
City Council sinks deal to alter ownership of Bayfront Health St. Petersburg

City Council sinks deal to alter ownership of Bayfront Health St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — After months of tense negotiations and weeks of political impasse, the City Council on Thursday derailed a proposal that would have changed the ownership structure of the city’s largest hospital, Bayfront Health St. Petersburg.The 5-...
Published: 12/14/17
Florida hospitals call for more funding in effort to address looming doctor shortage

Florida hospitals call for more funding in effort to address looming doctor shortage

The number of doctors practicing in Florida has not kept up with the state’s surging population growth, and more money is needed to recruit and keep them here, hospital leaders said Wednesday.The shortage is particularly acute in four speciality area...
Published: 12/13/17
An overlooked epidemic: Older Americans taking too many unneeded drugs

An overlooked epidemic: Older Americans taking too many unneeded drugs

Consider it America’s other prescription drug epidemic.For decades, experts have warned that older Americans are taking too many unnecessary drugs, often prescribed by multiple doctors, for dubious or unknown reasons. Researchers estimate that 25 per...
Published: 12/13/17
How is Florida’s health? Not so great, report says

How is Florida’s health? Not so great, report says

Florida slightly improved its national standing this year, rising from 36th to 32nd overall in the annual America’s Health Rankings report. But the takeaway for the nation’s third-largest state is that it has a long way to go in many important health...
Published: 12/12/17
Driven by demand, Planned Parenthood opens second clinic in Tampa

Driven by demand, Planned Parenthood opens second clinic in Tampa

The floor-to-ceiling glass windows are heavily tinted and the inside is hidden behind rows of curtains. Security cameras monitor every corner, and only patients with an appointment and valid identification can pass through the intentionally cramped e...
Published: 12/12/17
Video: Jimmy Kimmel holds his baby son, post-heart surgery, in emotional health-care monologue

Video: Jimmy Kimmel holds his baby son, post-heart surgery, in emotional health-care monologue

Jimmy Kimmel was absent from his ABC late-night show last week while his 8-month-old son, Billy, recovered from his second heart surgery. Ever since Billy was born with a heart defect and required immediate surgery, Kimmel has become an outspoken adv...
Published: 12/12/17
Record numbers are signing up for Obamacare in Florida as enrollment period draws to a close

Record numbers are signing up for Obamacare in Florida as enrollment period draws to a close

With just four days left to enroll for health insurance on the federal exchange, advocates for the Affordable Care Act say Florida is headed for a record-breaking year. In week five of the six-week open enrollment period, about 823,180 people signed ...
Published: 12/12/17
A boy shares the pain of being bullied - inspiring thousands to show him love (w/video)

A boy shares the pain of being bullied - inspiring thousands to show him love (w/video)

While fighting back tears, young Keaton Jones couldn’t stop asking one question: Why?"Just out of curiosity, why do they bully? What’s the point of it?" he asks his mother while in the passenger seat of a parked car. "Why do you find joy in taking in...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated: 12/11/17