Report ranks Kentucky near bottom for senior health and care

United Healthcare Foundation issued its first report on the health outcomes of people age 65 and over. Kentucky ranked just 45th out of the 50 states. The study used various statistics which were then separated into four categories or "determinants," which are clinical care, policy, community/environment and behavior.

Some of the weaknesses listed for the state include low community support, averaging just $358 per senior compared to over $8,000 for the number one-ranked state, and the highest rate in the country for preventable hospitalizations. Some strengths for the state included the number of residents in low-care nursing homes and a low number of seniors who are underweight.

Kentucky ranked 21st for the policy category, which included such things as the number of doctors for specializing in senior care, nursing home care and prescription drug coverage. For the behaviors category, the state ranked 32nd in the study for such factors as obesity and smoking. The category of community and environment garnered a ranking of 41. Factors for this category included support from the community, rates for poverty and insecurity about food. Finally, the category with the worst ranking for the state was clinical care. Kentucky received a ranking of 48th for hospice care, diabetic care and preventative medicine. These rankings put the state at 40 out of 50.

The final step in ranking the state is to average an "outcome ranking" with the category of "determinants" ranking. The outcome ranking includes many factors, such as premature deaths, healthy seniors, number of falls and resulting hip fractures, and overall health status. The outcome ranking placed Kentucky firmly in last place. This resulted in the 45th ranking for the state overall.

One county health director says personal habits needs to change to improve the results of this study. Kentuckians, she said, tend to eat too much, smoke and not get enough exercise. She also said low income levels significantly affect senior health incomes, as does a lack of transportation.

While Kentucky may rank well for low-care nursing homes, you may know of a loved who has experienced nursing home neglect or abuse. If so, you should contact an experienced attorney to learn about possible compensation in a civil action against the nursing home and others responsible.

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