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Report: Iowa Seniors At Lower Risk Of Social Isolation

Matthew Bennett
A new report found Iowa's 65 and older population is at lower risk for social isolation as compared to the rest of the nation.

A new report has found Iowa’s seniors are at low risk for social isolation as compared to the nation.

The annual senior report by the United Health Foundation found Iowans who are 65 and older have the sixth highest rate of volunteerism in the country and rank seventh for low risk of social isolation.

"We see strong links with social isolation and poor mental health, strong links with social isolation and poor overall health," said Rhonda Randall, the chief medical officer with United Healthcare. "So it's good news that that percentage is lower in Iowa than in most of the other states."

But Iowa's seniors ranked low in some categories. Iowa is 42nd in the nation for senior rates of obesity, access to geriatric health care professionals and access to high speed internet.

Randall said this year’s rankings are based on pre-pandemic data, and she expects some rankings like social isolation to dramatically shift next year.

"A really good example where we were facing issues with seniors in our nation is social isolation before the pandemic," she said. "And then the public health guidance was to socially distance. So we're concerned that that may have gotten worse."

But Randall said she also expects to see some "bright spots" from the pandemic, like better access to high speed internet.

"It was going in the right direction before the pandemic, and we know it really accelerated because of the pandemic," she said. "That's important for seniors for maintaining that social connectedness."

Natalie Krebs is IPR's Health Reporter