New Jersey ranks 21st this year for senior health, up three spots from its previous rank in 2018. The Garden State currently ranks 11th for general population health and 12th for the health of women and children, according to a report commissioned by UnitedHealth Foundation.
The report, America’s Health Rankings, provides an analysis of national health on a state-by-state basis by evaluating a historical and comprehensive set of health, environmental and socioeconomic data to determine national health benchmarks and state rankings.
Among New Jersey’s strengths are a high percentage of able-bodied seniors – the 3rd highest in the country (with 69.9 percent of adults aged 65 plus recognized as able-bodied), a high prevalence of arthritis management and low early-death rate.
Challenges include a high prevalence of physical inactivity, with the state ranking 42nd in the country with 34.8 percent of adults aged 65 plus in fair or better health; a high percentage of hospital deaths and a low percentage of volunteerism.
According to the report, in the past year, obesity decreased 5 percent in New Jersey from 27.9 percent to 26.6 percent for adults aged 65 plus and in the past two years, depression increased 30 percent from 10.8 percent to 14 percent of adults aged 65 plus.
In the past six years, poverty increased 11 percent from 7.6 percent to 8.4 percent of adults aged 65 plus and home-delivered meals decreased 32 percent from 11.6 percent to 7.9 percent of adults aged 60 plus with independent-living difficulty.
In the past four years, flu vaccination coverage increased 11 percent from 57.2 percent to 63.4 percent of adults aged 65 plus.
The 2019 America’s Health Rankings Senior Report provides a comprehensive look at the health of seniors across the nation and on a state-by-state basis. Thirty-four core measures of health are used to create the senior health state rankings.
Data for the measures are obtained from more than a dozen sources including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, the Administration on Aging’s State Program Reports, the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and The Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care.
The 2019 report finds Hawaii is the healthiest state for seniors. Hawaii’s top rank is driven by high rankings in the behaviors, policy and health outcomes categories. Utah (No. 2), Connecticut (No. 3), Minnesota (No. 4) and Colorado (No. 5) round out the states in the top five. Mississippi is No. 50 this year, ranking in the bottom 10 states across all five model categories. Other states in the bottom five are Kentucky (No. 49), Louisiana (No. 48), Oklahoma (No. 47) and West Virginia (No. 46).