The 10 Best States for Aging (and the 5 Absolute Worst)
Medical advancements and technology mean we’re all expected to live a little longer than in years past, which is great news. But as you age, you may wonder if your home state is really the best place for you to stay for the rest of your life. There’s rising cost of living to consider, of course — but when it comes to your health, there are also certain states that can provide better care than others.
Here are the 10 states you should consider moving to for the sake of your health as you grow older, as well as the five states you should completely avoid.
- Best for transitioning in and out of nursing homes
You might expect the best quality of life for seniors to be in the southern states (Florida’s a popular destination, after all), but that’s not necessarily the case. Forbes reports that according to data from Caring.com, Utah is one of the best states to grow old in. The state ranks the best in transitioning in and out of nursing homes, and assisted living costs are also relatively low here.
U.S. News & World Report’s data also found Utah ranks as the ninth best state for health overall, and eighth best for physical activity. Not bad.
Next: This Midwestern state had surprisingly good results.
- Best for mental health
If you’re looking for a good quality of life as you age, Forbes notes Iowa ranks well here. And U.S. News & World Report’s data found the state ranks fourth best in terms of overall health for seniors. And the cost of care isn’t too bad here, either, making it an ideal choice.
Need another reason to move to Iowa? It has the lowest number of residents 65 and older experiencing mental distress.
Next: You might expect to see this mountainous state on the list.
- Best for physical activity and family caregiver support
You’ve probably heard good things about Colorado if you haven’t yet been there. And for aging seniors, it might just be the perfect place to settle down. U.S. News & World Report ranks the state No. 3 for overall health, and it also has the fifth lowest number of residents with mental distress. As far as physical activity and able-bodiedness are concerned, the state ranks extremely well in these two areas, too.
Forbes notes as far as family caregiver support goes, the state also ranks as second best overall.
Next: This island state shouldn’t just be a vacation destination.
- Best for life expectancy and nursing home quality
Don’t just take yourself on a vacation to Hawaii — stay there as you age. U.S. News & World Report data finds this state ranks second best in terms of overall health for its residents. Not only that, but it came in as the sixth-best state for physical activity, the No. 1 state for life expectancy, and the No. 1 state for nursing home quality.
The only downside is health and nursing care is quite expensive in Hawaii — but your quality of life is sure to be high.
Next: Head to this state for well-rounded care.
5. South Dakota
- Best for mental health and life expectancy
As far as the population in South Dakota goes, those 65 and older aren’t necessarily flocking to this state. But you should consider moving there if you’re aging, as U.S. News & World Report says it’s the second best state for reduced stress levels. It also ranked well in terms of life expectancy, Medicare quality, and able-bodiedness. As for pricing, it’s not nearly as high as it is for care in other states, either.
Next: Skip California in favor of this West Coast state.
- Best for physical activity
When it comes to older adult support and facilities, it’s tough to top Washington. This West Coast state ranks as the best when it comes to the quality of services that will help you as you age, Forbes notes. And U.S. News & World Report ranked it well in terms of health, too, as it landed as the seventh-best state overall when it comes to wellness. Additionally, if you’re physically active (or hoping to be in the future), Washington ranked as the second-best state for this, too.
Next: This state can guarantee you a great quality of life overall.
- Best for physical activity and caregiver support
If health care is on the brain as you age, head to Oregon. Forbes reports this state can offer you a great quality of care in the short and long-term, and it also ranked very well for family and caregiver support.
U.S. News & World Report found the state fell somewhere in the middle when it came to life expectancy, cost of care, and mental distress, however. But the state did extremely well for those who hope to be physically active, as it ranked as the fourth best.
Next: You should consider heading north once you see how good this state is.
- Best for having a population over the age of 65
This may not be the state for you if you’re hoping to age in a warm environment. But it may surprise you to know that Maine is actually the No. 1 state when it comes to having a population that’s over the age of 65, U.S. News & World Report finds. Not only that, but Maine has excellent Medicare, nursing home, and primary care quality. And as far as health is concerned, it’s ranked eighth best overall.
Next: If Medicare is on the brain, head to this state.
- Best for Medicare Advantage enrollment
This state might not be on your radar, either — but you shouldn’t cross it off just yet. Surprisingly, U.S. News & World Report’s data finds over 90% of those enrolled in Medicare Advantage are part of plans that are rated four stars or higher, which is the highest percentage of any state.
And that’s not all. The state also ranked sixth best overall for health, third best for lack of mental distress, and sixth best for life expectancy.
Next: This state ranks No. 1 when it comes to health.
10. New Hampshire
- Best for overall health
When it comes to the best state for overall health, New Hampshire wins. U.S. News & World Report says seniors living in New Hampshire report they’re quite happy and healthy living in this New England state, too. According to the data, 83% of seniors in the state called their health “good,” “very good,” or “excellent.” And this could be because 96% of seniors here have a designated primary care doctor or health care provider.
Most states up north are good for the aging population, too. If nursing home care is what you’re after, head over to New Hampshire’s neighbor, Vermont.
Next: Here are the worst states for your health as you age.
- Worst for overall health and physical activity
Unfortunately, this Southern state didn’t rank very high here. U.S. News & World Report found Mississippi ranked as the 48th state for life expectancy, leaving only two states worse off here. It also suffered in its rankings for Medicare quality, mental distress, and able-bodiedness.
The state also ranked as the worst in two huge areas — physical activity and overall health. Don’t move here if you’re hoping to become more active anytime soon.
Next: This state is badly ranked for long-term care for aging seniors.
- Worst for long-term care for seniors and people with disabilities
In terms of overall health, Indiana didn’t rank within the top 10 states (though it didn’t rank well, either, according to the U.S. News & World Report data). But it particularly failed in one important area — and that’s long-term care. NWI Times reports Indiana was the worst-ranked state when it came to providing care for seniors and people with disabilities in the long-term.
Additionally, the state also ranked badly for physical activity, able-bodiedness, and life expectancy.
Next: This well-off state was a serious shocker to us.
3. New York
- Worst for health care costs and mental distress
There’s decent health care available in New York — but only if you can afford it. Bloomberg notes the state had some of the highest health care costs in the country. And for the cost, the quality of the care wasn’t as good as expected either, making it an undesirable state to age in.
New York’s also not great for your mental health, especially if you’re living in the city. U.S. News & World Report ranked it the second-worst state for mental distress.
Next: You’ll want to stay far away from this state as you age.
4. West Virginia
- Worst for the quality of life
Caring.com ranked West Virginia as the overall worst state to age in — and after looking at the stats, it’s hard to argue. They also ranked the state as having the worst quality of life in the U.S., though it did rank well in terms of cost.
As for data from U.S. News & World Report, they found the state ranked 48th for life expectancy, 47th for Medicare quality, and 48th for overall health. The state also has the least number of able-bodied people, and its physical activity levels are quite low.
Next: The cost for nursing homes in this state is what’s pulling its ranking down.
5. North Dakota
- Worst for nursing home costs
As far as mental distress and Medicare quality is concerned North Dakota did fairly well according to U.S. News & World Report’s data. But the state’s cost of care and primary care ranks as some of the worst, making it a state place for aging seniors. CBS News reports home health aides were also the highest in the country in North Dakota.
If you have money to burn, North Dakota may be ideal. But for everyone else, choose another state.
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