© 2023 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Study: Missouri Ranks Low In Senior Health, Kansas Improves Standing


Missouri is the 39th healthiest state for older adults, according to a study released Wednesday by a nonprofit arm of UnitedHealth Group, the country’s largest health insurer.

In the second state-by-state analysis undertaken by the United Health Foundation, Missouri slipped three places, hurt by relatively high smoking rates, a high percentage of low-care nursing home residents and a low percentage of dental visits within the previous 12 months.

Nearly 12 percent of Missouri adults age 65 and older are smokers, according to the study, 46th worst in the nation.

For the second year in a row, Minnesota came out on top in the study, followed by Hawaii, New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts. The least healthy state for older adults was Mississippi, followed by Louisiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Arkansas. You can see the rankings in full here

Kansas ranked 17th in the study, improving three places over last year. The study cited various positive health indicators, including few poor mental health days reported per month, a high percentage of older adults reporting volunteer activities and low rates of chronic drinking.

The report looks at 34 measures of older-adult health and draws on data from government agencies and private research groups.  

Other Missouri highlights of the report:

  • Use of hospice care increased by a third.
  • Hospital deaths were down by 14 percent.
  • Flu vaccinations increased from 63.1 percent to 67.3 percent.
  • The number of underweight older adults decreased from 1.6 percent to 1.1 percent.

Other Kansas findings:

  • 29.4 percent of older adults fell in the last 12 months, 30th among all states.
  • For the second year in a row, the state ranked fourth in volunteerism among older adults.
  • The state ranked 45th in the percentage of low-care nursing home residents, 18.2 percent.
  • The state ranked 38th in percentage of hip fractures, 8.3 percent.  

More than 40 million Americans were 65 and older as of the 2010 U.S. census, comprising 13 percent of the total population. That number is projected to more than double to 88.5 million by 2050, or more than 20 percent of the population.

Dan Margolies has been a reporter for the Kansas City Business Journal, The Kansas City Star, and KCUR Public Radio. He retired as a reporter in December 2022 after a 37-year journalism career.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and powerful storytelling.
Your donation helps make nonprofit journalism available for everyone.