W.Va. Seniors Rank Poorly on Annual Health Report

May 18, 2018

An annual report from the United Health Foundation found that West Virginia’s seniors are some of the most unhealthy older adults in the country. 

The report looked at the intersection of behaviors, community & environment, policy and clinical care to determine health outcomes.

The most striking data has to do with oral hygiene. In West Virginia, more than 30 percent of seniors have had all their teeth removed, compared to almost 6 percent of seniors in the lowest ranked state, Hawaii. The state with the next highest full-mouth teeth extraction rates is Mississippi at about 26 percent. 

West Virginia also ranks in the top ten most socially isolated states with risk factors, including poverty, marriage status, disability and living alone. 

The report found that West Virginia’s food insecurity rate increased from about 15 to almost 19 percent, ranking the state sixth in the total percentage of older adults experiencing food insecurity. West Virginia is one of five states with the largest suicide rate increases among seniors since 2014.

On the flipside, West Virginia ranks number one in the percentage of older adults receiving a flu vaccine and is second in the fewest amount of adults excessively drinking alcohol. 

Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from the Marshall Health, Charleston Area Medical Center and WVU Medicine.