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Senior health survey ranks Arizona 23rd in nation

PHOENIX -- Arizona ranks in the middle of the pack for senior health.

The state ranks 23rd best in the United Health Foundation's rankings for people over the age of 65. That's down from 18th place last year.

United Healthcare Arizona Medical Director Dr. Robert Beauchamp said a few trouble spots might be to blame for the decline.

"The reasons might relate to a somewhat-increased rate of smoking in seniors, as well as a lower percentage of flu immunizations," Beauchamp said.

Beauchamp couldn't pinpoint why more seniors may be smoking.

As for flu shots, he said fewer people may be getting them because there have been fewer news stories about the flu in the media. However, Beauchamp said Arizona seniors are doing better in other areas.

"As a state, we do have a lower prevalence of obesity," he said. "We're at 22.5 percent, while in the rest of the nation, the average is 25.8 percent."

Arizona seniors rank in the bottom third of states for managing their diabetes and the number of times they end up in intensive care. The state ranks No. 2 in the country for the lowest rate of hospital deaths and the use of hospice care.

The survey ranked Minnesota as having the healthiest seniors in the nation. Mississippi finished dead last.

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About the Author


Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I am married to my wife Rene', who is a librarian in the Washington school district. During free time, I may be found playing basketball in the driveway with my son, Devin. He's also keeping me busy with school, Little League, and playing in chess tournaments around the Valley.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: Doug Oldham gospel concert in the 1970s at the old East High School in Phoenix.

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Northern Hills Community Church in Phoenix. We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.

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