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May 22, 2018

When it comes to the condition of their overall health, New Jersey’s seniors rank 23rd among the states. Not too hot, not too cold. But that’s a drop of three spots from their previous grade, according to America's Health Rankings Senior Report.

Among the factors contributing to the mediocre ranking was a high use of intensive care units: New Jersey places 50th in that category; 23.1 percent of the state’s Medicare recipients aged 65 and older who died spent seven or more days in an ICU during the last six months of life. Compare that with the less than 6 percent for their peers in Vermont, North Dakota, Idaho, Maine and Utah.

Seniors in the Garden State scored badly too for physical activity, ranking 46th. Almost 36 percent of adults here aged 65 and older, in fair or better health, reported no physical activity or exercise during the previous 30 days, other than whatever their regular jobs demanded. It’s perhaps not unrelated that obesity has increased from 25.0 percent to 27.9 percent among adults here aged 65 and above.

Hospital readmissions also contributed to the state’s ranking. More than 15 percent of Medicare enrollees aged 65 and older in New Jersey were readmitted to hospital within 30 days of having been discharged, placing the state 36th for that health indicator.

On the rosier side, apparently our seniors don’t fall as much as do older people in other states. New Jersey’s seniors rank fourth for a low prevalence of falls, with only 25.6 percent of adults aged 65 years and older having fallen in the previous 12 months.

Other findings: When it comes to four- and five-star nursing home beds, New Jersey’s doing well. In the past three years, their number has increased from 49.7 percent to 61.0 percent of certified nursing home beds. The state also scores well on diabetes management, ranking second, with 84.4 percent of diabetic Medicare enrollees aged 65 to 75 receiving a blood lipids test. This compares to fewer than 70 percent in Wyoming, New Mexico, Montana and Vermont.

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