A new national study is singling out Florida's seniors for their unhealthy lives, in particular their love of alcohol and (maybe not coincidentally) their chronic health problems and struggles with mental health.
The good news: Sunshine State residents who are at least 65 years old tend to be among the nation's most physically active and least obese in the nation, helping to get Florida's overall senior health ranking to the mid-level No. 28 spot.
This report is courtesy of the United Health Foundation, the foundation arm of the insurer United Healthcare.
"It's a tool that helps us guide resources to help make our seniors healthier," said Dr. Mayrene Hernandez, a Pembroke Pines family practice physician affiliated with United Healthcare.
• About 5 percent of Florida seniors report chronic drinking, defined as 60 drinks/month for men and 30/month for women. Forty-three other states performed better, according to the report.
• A little more than 25 percent of seniors are physically inactive on a regular basis, compared to nearly 30 percent last year. Florida ranks No. 5 nationally for its physically active seniors.
• Florida ranks the worst in the nation for its percentage of seniors with multiple chronic medical conditions (43.5 percent).
• Falls are less common here than in other states. Florida had a rate of 23.7 percent, compared to the national average of more than 30 percent. Good weather (and an absence of winter-season ice) is one possible reason.
• Florida is last place when it comes to the number of home health care workers. Its rate of 26.9 per 1,000 adults over 75 falls well below the No. 1-ranking Alaska, which had 299.6 per 1,000 such adults.
• The state ranks third nationally when it comes to patients using hospice care, instead of just staying in hospitals for that kind of treatment.
This kind of information is useful for Lee and Collier counties, where 65-plus residents respectively make up 25 percent and 28 percent of the populations.
"It's a cohort of our population that's going to have unique needs and issues," said Deb Millsap, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Health in Collier. "I think it's invaluable actually to have this kind of report to see what we can do to help seniors, instead of just relying on stereotypes and what we think is needed."