More than 17 percent of Florida’s population falls into the 65-years-old-and-over category – the highest proportion of any other state, according to 2010 Census figures. Yet the Sunshine State ranks 44th in a recent study comparing state performance when it comes to caring for the elderly.

A study by The Commonwealth Fund, AARP’s Public Policy Institute, and The SCAN Foundation, entitled, Raising Expectations: A State Scorecard on Long-Term Services and Supports for Older Adults, People with Physical Disabilities, and Family Caregivers, examines states’ performance in delivering long-term services and support to older adults and people with disabilities.

The scorecard relied upon the analysis of 25 indicators that fall into four broad categories:

  • Affordability and access;
  • Choice of setting and provider;
  • Quality of life and quality of care; and
  • Support for family caregivers.

Minnesota was the only state to rank in the top quartile in all four categories, earning the top spot among all other states. At 12.9 percent of its population, Minnesota’s 65+ segment of the population closely mirrors the national average of 13 percent.

Other states that fared well on the scorecard include Washington, Oregon, Hawaii, Wisconsin, and Iowa.

In addition to ranking the states, the report draws a parallel between policy and performance, suggesting that “lower performing states can improve their overall ranking by adopting policies and procedures shown to provide better outcomes.”

States with the highest level of performance have enacted public policies designed to improve access to services, establish a single point of system entry for care, and improve support for caregivers, according to the study.

With the first round of baby boomers turning 65 this year, eldercare takes on wider relevance than ever before.

“If all states reached (performance) levels currently achieved by leading states, the U.S. could realize significant gains in health, better care experiences, and potentially lower costs.”