Older Adults In Certain Regions May Be Healthier

Quality of life and health of older adults better in Midwest and Northeast US than in the South

(RxWiki News) Could older residents in certain parts of the country fare better than their peers in other regions? Maybe so, according to the authors of a new study.

This new study examined health-related quality of life in adults over the age of 65 across the US.

The researchers found that older adults in the Northeastern and Midwestern US were more likely to have better health-related quality of life scores than older adults in the South.

"Stay active as you age to maintain mobility."

This study was led by Diana Kachan, BS, of the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami in Florida.

According to Kachan and colleagues, health-related quality of life has been tied to a number of issues, including obesity and death, but its relationship to location has not been explored.

Kachan and team wanted to examine regional differences in health-related quality of life. To do so, they used the Health and Activities Limitation Index (HALex), a measure of health-related quality of life based on self-reported perceptions of health and abilities.

HALex measures whether help is needed to complete personal care or routine activities and whether participants are limited in their ability to work due to a health issue. HALex scores range from 0 to 1.0, with a higher score representing better health-related quality of life.

The researchers analyzed data from the 1997 to 2010 National Health Interview Survey to examine 79,863 adults across the US over the age of 65. The average HALex score of all participants was found to be 0.735.

Kachan and team found state-to-state variations in health-related quality of life. The lowest average HALex scores came from Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and West Virginia, where the scores ranged from 0.62 to 0.68.

The states with the highest HALex scores were Arizona, Delaware, Nevada, New Hampshire and Vermont, where the average scores ranged from 0.78 to 0.79.

When looking at the results by region, Kachan and team found that older residents in the Northeast and the Midwest were less likely to have low health-related quality of life scores than their counterparts in the Southern US.

This study relied on self-reported data from participants, and further research is needed to confirm these findings.

"Significant regional differences exist in [health-related quality of life] of older Americans," wrote Kachan and team. "Future research could provide policy makers with information on improving [health-related quality of life] of older Americans."

This study was published online July 3 in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Preventing Chronic Disease. No conflicts of interest were reported.

Funding for the study was provided by a number of organizations, including the Bankhead Coley Cancer Research Program, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the National Institute on Aging.

Review Date: 
July 2, 2014