by Kathryn Carley, Commonwealth News Service
Massachusetts ranks tenth in the nation when it comes to healthy senior living, according to a new report.
United Healthcare’s 2023 Senior Report measures the physical, mental and social well-being of Americans age 65 and older – and shows that increased community support services have led to a 6% decline in food insecurity.
UnitedHealthcare Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President Dr. Rhonda Randall said more eligible seniors are also taking advantage of federal programs, like SNAP, to alleviate hunger.
“Less seniors are worried about getting access to nutritious food,” said Randall. “More seniors got home delivered meals and more seniors got assistance with meals.”
Randall said efforts that began during the pandemic to help keep vulnerable seniors fed and healthy show that with the right investments, the lives of older adults can improve.
More than 200 Massachusetts communities are working to be considered ‘age and dementia friendly’ – based on their needs for transportation, housing or access to technology.
Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative Director James Fuccione said the state is doing a lot right, with nearly every community supported by a Council on Aging.
“We just have a really strong network of advocacy groups and all kinds of organizations, including state government,” said Fuccione, “that are good partners at putting an age-friendly lens on all kinds of policies and programs.”
Fuccione said local and statewide infrastructure plans increasingly include designs to make communities more walkable with accessible spaces for social engagement.
The state is also working on a digital equity plan to ensure older adults have access to telehealth, transportation and food services as well as social connections.