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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.

Bob McClay, Reporter

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