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Kentucky Ranks 48th In Annual Senior Citizen Health Report

Excessive smoking among seniors is a major reason why Kentucky ranks so low in the report.

A study by the United Health Foundation ranks Kentucky 48th in its annual report on senior citizens. That’s a slight improvement over the state’s ranking last year.

According to the study, seniors in Kentucky are not excessively drinking and are doing a good job of managing their diabetes. But the report says there’s still a high prevalence of smoking and preventable hospital visits. Rhonda Randall is a senior medical advisor for the United Health Foundation. She says excessive smoking among seniors is a major reason why Kentucky ranks so low in the report.

“Decreasing that smoking rate has such a positive influence on our overall health," she says. "That would really help Kentucky to improve in the rankings.”

Randall says the number of seniors in the Commonwealth who have an annual dental visit has increased 11 percent since last year. She says the poverty rate for seniors in Kentucky has decreased 7 percent in the past five years.

The report ranks Kentucky 11th for diabetes management.

“For people that have diabetes, and we do know that there are too many seniors in the state who have diabetes, but when you have diabetes in the state of Kentucky we’re doing a good job of making sure that they are getting their diabetes under control," Randall says. 

Kentucky’s flu vaccinations for people 65 years and older has decreased 12 percent in the past year.

This story first appeared on WKYU. For more stories like this, visit wkyufm.org now