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2015 Report Ranks Florida 33rd in Senior Health

For millions of American retirees, Florida is a lifelong dream. Mild winters, plentiful beaches, and year-round activities make our state on of the best places to retire. This is further proven by the rise in Florida boomtowns like the Villages, which is presently the fastest growing town in America, as reported by CNBC.com.

With Florida being such a magnet for retiring seniors, it may come as a surprise that in a 2015 report by United Health, Florida was listed as 33rd in the nation for senior health. At first blush this might be alarming, especially given that this report puts Florida behind almost every northern and western state in the country. However, Florida ranked well above its other southern border states, with Georgia ranking 40th and Alabama coming in at 46th. But where do these statistics come from, and should Florida seniors worry?

What goes into the rankings?

As one might imagine, statistics are often misleading. According to United Health’s 2015 report, the rankings are based on a wide variety of factors, including but not limited to the number of cancer deaths in a year, air pollution, and the number of dentists per 100,000 residents. In fact, even the high school graduation rate and number of children living in poverty are considered when determining a state’s ranking. Even infant mortality is factored into the determination. One might then wonder how all of this equates to a lower overall ranking for “senior health.”

Are the numbers misleading?

It seems they might be a little misleading to those who simply read the map provided on United’s website. A closer look will show some profound benefits of Florida over other southern states. For instance, when it comes to obesity, only 26 percent of Floridian adults are considered obese. Compare that with 29 percent of adults living in 31st ranked North Carolina. Likewise, Floridians have access to just over 111 primary care physicians to every 100,000 residents. While this number may seem low, it is far better than a host of states that rank above Florida, according to the report. A few of these, for instance, are Iowa, Montana, Kansas, and Utah.

So, the rankings depend on many factors that may or may not be relevant to seniors looking to retire in Florida. After all, infant mortality, while an incredibly important public health issue, may not be a terribly relevant factor when reviewing a state’s overall “senior” health.

Conclusion

Floridians enjoy many benefits of living in the Sunshine State. Despite the apparent negative ranking from 2015, Florida is one of the few places in the country where seniors can enjoy leisurely strolls in December, go for a bicycle ride in February, or enjoy world class healthcare at numerous major research institutions. Health outcomes for seniors are often the result of chosen lifestyle, especially later in life. Those facing long-term care needs in Florida have many terrific options for nursing home, in-home care, and hospice care when necessary.

Those wishing to plan for the future and ensure long-term security and peace of mind in retirement should always consider putting together a comprehensive estate plan with the assistance of a skilled elder law attorney. The Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group serves seniors throughout The Villages. Call for an appointment today.

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