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Oklahoma ranks No. 47 in senior health

by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: May 30, 2014

In Oklahoma, almost 60 percent of seniors with an income greater than $75,000 report their health is “very good or excellent.”

Meanwhile, only about 24 percent of seniors with an income less than $25,000 report the same.

That’s one of the health disparities pointed out in the United Health Foundation’s 2014 senior health report.

Overall, Oklahoma ranked No. 47 in the nation in senior health, receiving the ranking because of the state’s poor senior health outcomes and other factors that affect residents’ overall health.

Oklahoma was in the bottom five worst states among our usual company: “Mississippi is the least healthy state for seniors, followed by Louisiana (49), Kentucky (48), Oklahoma (47) and Arkansas (46),” according to the report.

The state did see some improvement and areas where things were looking up. For example, Oklahoma has a low reported rate of seniors who are chronic drinkers. And the state had one of the highest rates of older residents who got their flu shots.

Overall, the report recommends that Oklahoma focus on how to improve health for this growing population:

… With the senior population poised to double in the next 25 years, states and local communities should continue to address unhealthy behaviors that threaten to compromise seniors’ health. More than 35 percent have four or more chronic conditions, while more than 25 percent of seniors are obese and 28 percent are physically inactive. Only about 60 percent of seniors received the flu vaccine in the last 12 months. Older adults will account for roughly 20 percent of the U.S. population by 2030, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, making these challenges urgent.

Highlights of the report include:

• Oklahoma has one of the highest rates of physical inactivity among seniors in the country; 36.7 percent, or 189,000 seniors in Oklahoma are physically inactive.

• The prevalence of underweight seniors decreased by 42 percent in the past year, from 3.1 percent to 1.8 percent of adults aged 65 and older.

• In the past year, senior flu vaccination coverage increased by 8.7 percent.

• Geriatrician shortfall remains very high in Oklahoma, with a slight increase in the shortfall in the past year.

• In the past year, the percentage of seniors who received recommended health screenings increased by 5 percent, from 77.9 percent to 81.7 percent of adults aged 65 and older.

by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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