New report ranks Hawaii first in the nation for senior health

America’s Health Rankings’ 2019 Senior Report shows Hawaii leading the nation as the healthiest state for seniors.

The report ranks each individual state on thirty-four core measurements. The measurements evaluate determinants of health such as behaviors, community and environment factors, health policy, and measurements related to clinical care. The report’s other core measurements include  rankings for specific health outcomes.


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In terms of determinants, Hawaii ranks #1.

Broken down, Hawaii ranks first in arthritis management, dental visits, low rates of obesity, preventable hospitalizations, and in nursing home quality. According to the report, in the past two years, four- or five-star rated nursing home beds increased from 51.2% to 67.9% (a 33% increase).

While rates of obesity and depression have increased in the past few years, their prevalence in Hawaii is the lowest of any other state.

Despite an overall high ranking for determinants, there are individual measurements that are troubling. For example, Hawaii ranks 48th in the nation for excessive drinking and 46th in the nation for rates of volunteerism. Also concerning is the rate of hospital deaths, where Hawaii ranks 44th.

Based off measurements of health outcomes, Hawaii ranks #2.

Here, Hawaii leads the nation on several measurements including low rates of early deaths.

“In the past six years, early deaths decreased 7% from 1,516 to 1,415 deaths per 100,000 adults aged 65-74,” reads the report.

Other notable trends for Hawaii in the report include a 7% increase in home health care workers, an 11% increase in hospice care, and a 22% decrease in food insecurity.

The report also evaluates national trends in senior health based off the individual state measurements.

Nationally, the report data shows an increase in home-based health service options for seniors and a decrease in food insecurity. However, mental health remains a challenge for seniors with increases in rates of depression and frequent mental distress.

In a comparison of the health of seniors aged 65-74, the report finds that between 2002 and 2017, excessive drinking increased 42%, obesity increased 36%, diabetes prevalence increased 36%, and suicide increased 16%.

On the positive side, during that time period the death rate decreased 22%, smoking decreased 16%, and those reporting “very good” or “excellent health” increased 11%.

The 2019 report also includes a new supplemental measurement called “avoided care due to cost” to highlight health care affordability and unmet medical needs.

“Nationally, 5.2 percent of seniors report not seeing a doctor in the past year due to cost, representing 2.7 million adults aged 65 and older.”

On this measurement, Hawaii ranks #9, with 4% of seniors reporting that they have avoided care in the last year due to costs.

The makers of the report, the United Health Foundation and the Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association (GAPNA), hope that the information will help identify priorities and create a roadmap to improve the health and well-being of the United States’ growing population of seniors.