The rankings are part of the Gallup-Healthways State of American Well-Being series that examines the well-being of Americans ages 55 and older. The analysis ranks states according to five different measures of well-being and then takes the overall score and ranks them. The state’s “well-being index score” is calculated on a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 being the best.
|Graphic from the State Well-Being Rankings for Older Americans report|
For the second year in a row, Hawaii had the best well-being score, at 67, compared with Kentucky’s score of 61.2. West Virginia, with a score of 59.9, ranked last for the second consecutive year.
Data for the report came from both cellphone and landline interviews with almost 116,000 older Americans. The survey was conducted in 2015 and the first quarter of 2016.
The well-being index measures five elements of well-being. Kentucky’s older adults ranked 48th in the category that measured motivation, goals and contentment; 46th for the category that asked about relationships and love; 41st for financial stress and security category; 49th for the category that measured health and energy levels; and 40th for community safety and pride.
James Kimbrough, president of AARP Kentucky and former chief planner for the state health department, told Darla Carter of The Courier-Journal that he thought the problem was rooted in poor eating habits and a lack of physical activity and said he would like to see state’s legislative leaders be public role models in these areas.
“The healthiest states in the country have a culture of encouraging people to exercise, to be outdoors, to not sit in front of the TVs,” he said.
Earlier this year, the 2016 Senior America’s Health Rankings Report also placed Kentucky near the bottom, ranking it 45th, which was a three-spot improvement from the previous year. This detailed report ranked Kentucky last in health outcomes and 44th in determiners of those outcomes.