TALLAHASSEE, FL – May is Older Americans Month, and a new report shows the Sunshine State is investing heavily in providing community support to help its older residents.
America’s Health Rankings 2023 Senior Report from United Healthcare ranked Florida 25th in health outcomes for people age 65 and older. Some noted challenges include a high prevalence of multiple chronic conditions and low rates of home health-care workers.
However, Dr. Michael Stockman, medical director of UnitedHealthcare, said strengths include lots of community support – home-delivered meals, active senior centers – because Florida spends about $154 per adult over age 60 on community support, compared with an average of $62 nationally.
“I guess on the sunny side of things in sunny Florida,” he said, “is that they really have a high level of community support expenditures, which helps keeps seniors living in their homes.”
The report puts Florida at 8% in terms of poverty among adults 65 and older. Florida is among 10 states that haven’t expanded Medicaid. Officials at the Florida Department of Elder Affairs didn’t follow up on a request for comment on the report’s findings.
Stockman said keeping seniors active and involved with pursuits such as volunteering has helped combat the many problems triggered during the severe isolation of the pandemic. He said that’s an area that appears to need improvement in Florida.
“We also see that the rate of volunteerism in Florida amongst Florida seniors is low,” he said. “This is important because it helps reduce that social isolation, and it gives a sense of that meaning and purpose, and allows adults to learn new things.”
The report said the early death rate among older Americans increased for the second consecutive year, breaking a long-term improvement trend. Since 2019, deaths among adults ages 65 to 74 rose 22% nationwide.