(The Center Square) – Maine is the nation’s top state for clinical care for U.S. residents 65 and older, according to America’s Health Rankings, a joint report from United Health Care and the Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association.
Clinical care includes access to care preventive care services and quality of care. Maine has the lowest number of nursing home residents who not require physical assistance for basic needs, according to the report.
The report applauds the state for its high prevalence of cancer screenings and low smoking rates. The senior population also had a low prevalence of multiple chronic conditions.
Maine also took the top spot as the safest place for seniors and had the lowest incidents of rape, murder, robberies and aggravated assaults per 100,000 residents over the age of 65, according to the report.
The state’s suicide rate was 24.4 per 100,000 residents, the eighth highest rate in the country. Among people 65 and older, suicides are more common among white men and those 85 and older.
“Preventing suicide among older adults may require the use of multiple and more aggressive interventions,” said Dr. Rhonda Randall, executive vice president and chief medical officer of UnitedHealthcare Employer and Individual. “Some doctors and researchers are urging caregivers of older adults with dementia to secure or eliminate firearms from their environment, in part because firearms are the most common method of suicide among older adults.”
Maine’s older population was also less active between the years of 2016 and 2019 and physical inactivity rose from 26.4 percent to 35.7 percent. It is likely those numbers will be higher when statistics from 2020 are reported which could increase the obesity rate, according to Randall.
“According to a recent American Psychological Association survey of more than 3,000 people, 61% of U.S. adults report undesired weight changes since the COVID-19 outbreak,” Randall said. Two in five of those surveyed gained more weight than they intended over the last year, at an average of 29 pounds per person.
About 76% of households 65 and older had high-speed internet in 2019, an increase of 10% since 2016. Maine ranks 27th when compared to the other 50 states.
“High-speed internet is an essential resource for effective communication and staying connected,” Randall said. “In fact, the United Nations views the internet as a basic human right citing its importance for social and economic development. Researchers have also identified access to high-speed as a social determinant of health.”
The report also measures voter participation. Maine led all states in the percentage of residents 65 and older who voted in the congressional elections with 78.9%.