New Jersey boasts one of the lowest rates of obesity among adults aged 65 and above, but at the same time, the state's senior citizens get less exercise than those in most other states.

The America's Health Rankings 2021 Senior Report from the United Health Foundation presents quite the mixed bag of results for the Garden State. The foundation, which looked at 50 measures across more than two dozen public health sources, suggests that understanding the health of seniors is especially important as states continue to respond to COVID-19.

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According to the rankings, New Jersey lands in the bottom 10 for a number of key measures, including physical inactivity, lack of sleep, and frequent mental distress.

"Some of these in the future could lead to greater numbers of suicides, greater numbers of substance use, greater numbers of falls, and greater numbers of seniors who are unable to live independently," said Rhonda Randall, chief medical officer for UnitedHealthcare Employer & Individual.

The Garden State ranks last among the states for the percentage of seniors (8.2%) who've avoided medical care due to cost. The state ranks 30th for the rate of flu vaccination (63.7%) among older residents, and 44th for pneumonia vaccination.

New Jersey performs well in a number of the key measures analyzed by the foundation. New Jersey lands top-10 showings for measures such as food insecurity, smoking rate, early death and obesity.

The suicide rate is second-best in the nation. At 21.2%, New Jersey's percentage of falls among seniors is also the second-best countrywide.

"We know that's very important because we're worried about hip fractures, and there's mortality associated with that," Randall said.

All of the report's findings come from pre-COVID years.

From 2016 to 2019, the report finds, the percentage of households with adults aged 65+ who have access to high-speed internet increased by 9%. Randall said this access increases individuals' chances of being connected to others and taking advantage of telehealth services.

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