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Minnesotan seniors the nation's healthiest, study reveals

Posted On Fri, June 7, 2013

When it comes to the states that boast the healthiest senior citizens, the Gopher State tops them all.

According to newly released data from United Health Foundation, Minnesota has the healthiest seniors in the country, illustrated in a variety of categories such as how hospitalization rate, high availability of home healthcare workers, high rate of flu vaccination and low incidence level of health issues resulting from chronic or binge drinking.

Also leading the way for states with virile seniors is Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Iowa, the report found.

Reed Tuckson, senior advisor for the nonprofit health foundation, noted that the states with seniors who have the best overall well-being have several characteristics in common one another, both in personal terms and their environment.

"Healthy seniors have a combination of positive personal behaviors and community support, which demonstrate that improving senior health will only come about by acting on individual, family, community and state levels," said Tuckson.

Health experts say that seniors can do themselves and their finances a world of good - particularly as it relates to health insurance rates - by making their well-being a priority.

Nick Mayer, a health expert and Yahoo contributor, notes that there are several ways in which individuals 65 years of age and older can stay healthy or improve their physical condition.

Perhaps the one that's easier said than done is eating right. Having a well-balanced diet is crucial at any age, but there are particular nutrients that ought to be eaten with greater frequency. For example, because women as they age are at a greater risk for osteoporosis, they should be sure to supplement their diet with vitamin D and calcium, which chiefly come from sources like salmon, milk, yogurt and various cheeses.

Stay active
Regular exercise is crucial as well. As the body ages, it may not be able to do the rigorous kinds of activity that men and women may have done when they were younger. However, moderate activities such as brisk walking, swimming and bicycle riding are easy on the joints and help the body build muscle while reducing calories.

Mayer also recommends going to the doctor a bit more frequently than people may have in previous years. Even when men and women may feel fine, a routine checkup may spot something that can be corrected by adjusting one's lifestyle or supplementing with an over-the-counter medicine or prescription.

As important as the physical body is to maintaining wellness in one's elder years, so too are the senses, particularly hearing and sight. Mayer says seniors should have their eyes checked at least once a year and to adjust any prescription lenses accordingly.

Keep in touch with friends
Social health is often just as to overall wellness. Whether it's becoming reacquainted with former classmates or talking with individuals who share common hobbies, Mayer notes that friendships can help people feel better about themselves and enrich lives with great joy.

Friends can even come in the non-human form. Studies have shown that the simple action of petting a dog or cat helps reduce blood pressure levels, a health issue that takes on greater import in the latter stages of life.

During the winter or cold and flu season in general, Mayer says seniors should be sure to get all the necessary vaccines. Having the flu shot done early is important as well, as there is traditionally a two-week incubation period before becoming immune to an influenza strain.

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