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Seniors in Kentucky Among Unhealthiest in the U.S., Report Says

Phalinn Ooi/Creative Commons

A new health ranking of senior citizen health in the U.S. puts Kentucky near the bottom of the list.

America’s Health Rankings looked at the health and well-being of people age 65 and older. Kentucky seniors were ranked 48th in the country. The low ranking was attributed to a high prevalence of smoking, high premature death rates and a low percentage of dental visits.

Louisiana was at the bottom of the list, with Mississippi just below Kentucky.

In Kentucky, 11.8 percent of seniors smoke tobacco, 53 percent report visiting a dentist in the last year, and there are 2,357.2 deaths per 100,000 adults age 65 to 74.

No single service or approach will help the state's seniors become healthier, said Dr. Julie Daftari, medical director for United Health Foundation in Kentucky.

"It really is the responsibility of the entire community as well as the individual to really help change some of these lifestyle behaviors that might not be so healthy," she said.

The elderly population is expected to more than double by 2050. That's even more reason to ensure the health and well-being of seniors in Kentucky, Daftari said.

"It's imperative that we address these health concerns now so that we can sustain services provided for all of our senior Americans over the long run," she said.

But overall, seniors in Kentucky do have some healthy behaviors. The survey found a low prevalence of chronic drinking and many receive flu vaccinations every year, among other things.