Photo by Pietro Schellino
The pandemic affected everyone in unprecedented ways but not equally. Social connections and support systems were heavily affected, especially among older adults. The social relationships fostered by an active community decreased, and challenges for seniors’ health rose.
The United Health Foundation’s 11th America’s Health Rankings Senior Report highlights the many challenges and strengths in the health of people 60 and over. The report includes 52 health measures from 22 sources.
Florida saw an increase of 27% in early deaths among adults ages 65 to 74 between 2019 and 2021. Poverty levels rose 8% for Florida seniors from 2017 to 2021. Florida now ranks 38th in senior wealth and 41st in senior housing affordability.
The report reveals some strengths for the Sunshine State. For example, 86% of seniors have access to high-speed internet, which is vital for telehealth. Florida is No. 2 in hospice care access and use and No. 1 in the reach of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
On the national level, senior centers, which increase social connectivity and promote community participation, saw a decrease in funding. The report also shows that senior centers receiving funding from the Older Americans Act decreased nationally by 5% from 2020 to 2021 and 23% since 2019.
While some statistics show growing strengths in older Americans’ lives, such as a national increase in high-speed internet access and a significant decrease in food insecurity, the negative implications of social isolation are severe.
Physical inactivity, lack of volunteerism, frequent physical distress and early deaths all worsened for America’s older adults. Those factors contribute to or result in a decline in social connectedness.
Social connectedness, mobility and independence contribute to the quality of life for older Americans. This report offers insights into the well-being of older Americans.