LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A national study has ranked Arkansas near the bottom for older adult health and well-being.

The United Health Foundation ranked the state 44th in its annual Senior Report. The study used 52 measures from 22 data sources to determine its ranking.

Arkansas faced “challenges,” in the study’s language, in several measures. The state has a high early death rate, a low percentage of houses with high-speed internet and a high prevalence of physical inactivity that brought its ranking down.

Other factors cited in the study were the 28% decrease in Arkansas home health care workers since 2017, despite the number of home health care workers increasing nationally.

The authors also found an increase in the state’s obesity rate, up 21% since 2016.

The good news is the Natural State has a low prevalence of excessive drinking, a high geriatric provider rate and a low prevalence of severe housing problems, according to the study’s authors.

Despite the low overall marks for high-speed internet access, the fact that Arkansas households had a 9% increase in high-speed internet since 2019 was a highlight in the study’s Arkansas ranking.

Nationally, study authors said the death rate for older Americans increased for the second consecutive year, breaking a long-term improvement since 2019 as deaths of the 65-74 age group grew 22%. The increasing death rate was due to opioids, cited as a factor here.

The study found that overall, the healthiest state for older adults was Utah, then New Hampshire. Arkansas’ neighboring state Mississippi had the lowest ranking in the study, followed by Louisiana.