#SeniorHealth Top 10 Best & Worst States to Grow Old: New Study Examines Cost, Quality of Senior Care
South Dakota is the best state to grow old, according to a new Caring.com report that examined a variety of financial, healthcare and quality of life categories. Neighboring Iowa and Minnesota ranked second and third, respectively.
The study found there’s generally an inverse relationship between the cost and quality of senior care. South Dakota and Iowa are perfect examples of a sweet spot: they offer excellent care at below-average prices. Among the 15 states with the cheapest senior care, just two rank in the top half for quality (South Carolina and Kansas).
The worst state to grow old is West Virginia, which was dragged down by a last-place showing in the healthcare and quality of life categories. New Jersey and New York join the Mountaineer State in the bottom three. These heavily populated neighbors are hampered by very high costs and below-average quality scores.
“The main takeaway from this research is that the traditional retirement destinations don’t always offer the best mix of cost and quality,” said Dayna Steele, Caring.com’s Chief Caring Expert and the author of Surviving Alzheimer’s with Friends, Facebook and a Really Big Glass of Wine. “This is why it’s so important for people to do their homework while they’re still relatively young and healthy in order to set themselves up for retirement years that are truly golden.”
Florida came in 31st overall (mostly due to below-average healthcare quality) and Arizona tied for 17th.
Top 10 Best States
South Dakota (1)
The land of Mount Rushmore, sweeping prairielands, buffalo, and just over 853,000 residents is the best state to grow old, outranking all other states on a combination of quality of life, healthcare and financial categories. Seniors in South Dakota have access to high-quality healthcare and senior care, with costs of care hovering around the national average (about $36,000 yearly for an assisted living community, and around $52,000 for a home health aide). In addition to financial considerations, our survey incorporated The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which measures purpose, social, financial, community and physical well-being. As of 2015, the Mount Rushmore State boasted one of the highest combined rankings in these categories for residents 55 and older.
Known for its endless cornfields, rolling plains and location at the heart of the Midwest, Iowa is the second-best state to spend your golden years. Like South Dakota, the Hawkeye State is far from the typical Sun Belt retirement destinations.
Also like South Dakota, senior care costs here are around the national average.
But the state ranked among the top 10 in the nation for quality of life and healthcare for residents over 55.
Sharing a border with Canada, it may be one of the coldest spots in the union, but it turns out, Minnesota is also one of the best states to grow old. Compared to the first two states on the list, senior care in Minnesota is pricier (an assisted living facility costs roughly $42,000 per year on average, while a home health aide runs about $57,000).
Still, the state ranked especially high (#3) in quality of health care and overall quality of life for seniors.
The “Last Frontier” is also one of the best places to spend your later years, according to our research. Of all 50 states, Alaska topped the list for quality of life and health care, and also ranked very high for quality and access to long-term care services and supports for seniors. At the same time, the state is also home to the most expensive senior care in the nation (a year in a nursing home costs a whopping $281,000 on average and assisted living runs more than $68,000 yearly), dragging its overall ranking down to the fourth spot.
According to one highly cited study, Oregon was the most popular state to move to in 2015. And our research shows, there’s good reason for people 55 and older to jump on the Oregon-bound bandwagon. The state ranked fourth in the quality of life and healthcare studies and also very high in long-term care and supports for seniors.
The ranking dipped somewhat due to pricier cost of senior care here– a year in an assisted living community runs about $50,000 on average and a home health aide costs over $51,000.
With its abundant natural beauty and vibrant cities, Colorado is another great place to live for people of all ages. And for those 55 and older, the Centennial State ranks seventh in overall quality of life, well-being and healthcare quality.
Its relatively high senior care rates (roughly $50,000 on average for either assisted living or a home health aide) pulled down the state’s ranking slightly.
In addition to being one of the world’s most popular vacation destinations, beautiful Hawaii boasts a great mix of quality of life, health care and support for people 55 and over.
The state scored the highest marks in the nation on support for family caregivers, and among the highest for quality of long-term care and supports for seniors.
But with senior care costs here among the highest in the nation (home health aides cost around $56,000 per year on average, while a year in an assisted living community runs about $48,000), not everyone can afford to spend their later years in the Aloha State.
South Carolina (8)
South Carolina not only draws plenty of tourists to its beachfront vacation towns, pastel-colored houses and Civil War monuments, it’s also a smart choice for seniors looking for affordable long-term care.
The only southern state to make the top 10, South Carolina boasts the nation’s fifth-cheapest elder care. A year in an assisted living community costs $37,500 on average, while a home health aide costs roughly $42,000 per year.
Meanwhile, the state’s overall quality of life and healthcare rankings for seniors are around the national average.
While it’s mostly known for its agriculture, with cornfields blanketing the landscape, Nebraska is also an excellent choice for people looking for a place to spend their later years.
The Cornhusker State also ranks high in the quality of life, healthcare and well-being indexes, and scores high marks for its quality of senior care and support for seniors and family caregivers.
As far as affordability of senior care, Nebraska’s costs are around the national average (roughly $53,000 annually for a home health aide and about $43,500 a year for assisted living expenses).
Wisconsin isn’t just for fans of cheese, beer and football – it’s also an excellent place to live for the 55-and-older crowd.
While senior care here is relatively expensive ($48,000 per year on average for an assisted living community and about $50,000 yearly for a home health aide), the state ranks eighth in the nation for quality of life and health care.
Wisconsin’s long-term care options and support for seniors and family caregivers also scored some of the highest marks in the country, cementing its place among the top 10.
Top 10 Worst States
West Virginia (1)
The worst state to grow old is West Virginia, our research shows.
Coming in at 20th place for senior care costs, long-term senior care here is relatively affordable (a year in an assisted living facility will run you $42,000 on average and a home health care aide costs about $36,600 per year).
And while the Mountain State boasts plenty of natural beauty and Civil War-era landmarks, it’s sorely lacking in important quality of life and healthcare offerings for seniors, ranking dead last in this category.
New Jersey (2)
New York’s oft-mocked neighbor to the west has reason to defend itself – its seaside towns, impressive historic landmarks and world-class universities like Princeton are nothing to sneeze at. Yet, when it comes to a great mix of affordable senior care and quality of life for those 55 and over, New Jersey doesn’t deliver.
The Garden State places 40th in the country for quality of life and healthcare for seniors.
What’s more, it’s among the most expensive in the U.S. for senior care – with average yearly costs for a home health aide at about $48,500 and roughly $69,000 for assisted living.
New York (3)
Claiming one of the most beloved, most-visited cities in the world, New York is second to none when it comes to many things – but as a place to grow old, the state is in the bottom three.
New York has the third-most expensive senior care in the country. A year in an assisted living community costs about $49,000 on average and a home health aide is around $52,600, while a semi-private room in a nursing home in New York runs about $131,700 on average.
And the Empire State didn’t fare much better in the healthcare or quality of life categories – ranking 36th in the nation on these criteria.
Home to the world-famous Kentucky Derby, vibrant cities like Louisville and the majestic Appalachian Mountains, Kentucky has plenty to offer. But when it comes to a place to spend your golden years, the southern state ranks among the lowest in the nation.
It ranked 13th in the nation for affordability of senior care (a year in an assisted living community here is roughly $40,000 while a home health aide costs about $44,000 per year on average), but was dragged down by its poor quality of life and health care ranking at the fourth lowest in the nation.
Also known as the “Crossroads of America,” Indiana is a great home for many residents, but this Midwestern state is a less than ideal place to grow old, our research finds.
Although it placed right in the middle for affordability of senior care in the 26th spot, Indiana’s ranking was pulled down with the fifth-lowest rating for quality of life and healthcare.
The state also had especially lower scores on support for seniors and family caregivers.
Rhode Island (6)
It may be home to some impressive historical sights, scenic seaside towns and a world-renowned Ivy League school, but the nation’s smallest state also appears to be one of the worst bets for those looking for a place to spend their later years.
While this New England state fared alright in the quality of life and healthcare ranking at 29th place, its senior care costs run far higher than the national average.
A year’s worth of home health aide services runs about $57,000, while assisted living costs in the state are a whopping $64,000 on average.
Similar to its neighbor to the east, Mississippi is home to a number of historical landmarks, world-class barbecue and excellent blues music.
But seniors considering living here also have reason to feel the blues, due to the state’s low quality of life and healthcare ranking (the third-lowest in the nation).
On the bright side, the southern state has some of the country’s most affordable senior care – with either a year in assisted living or a home health aide’s yearly fees both running about $38,000.
Pennsylvania [tied with Ohio] (8)
Home to the city of brotherly love, numerous historical monuments, world-renowned universities and more, Pennsylvania has a lot going for it – but it didn’t rank well in any of the categories we measured.
The northeastern state is 40th on the list for quality of life and healthcare, and 31st for senior care costs, making it one of the most expensive places in the nation for assisted living ($42,660 per year on average), home health aides (about $48,000 yearly) nursing homes (about $105,000 for a semi-private room).
Ohio [tied with Pennsylvania] (8)
Although Ohio can be a great place to live for many families, boasting world-renowned museums, universities, and sports teams, it also ranks among the lowest for residents aged 55 and older.
The state is tied with neighboring Pennsylvania for the eighth-worst place to grow old. Its spot on the bottom 10 list is due to its low rankings in quality of life and health care (it ranked the sixth lowest).
It ranked 14th in the nation for elder care costs, with a year of assisted living services running roughly $47,000 on average, and a home health aide about $45,000.
Alabama is the 10th worst state in which to grow old, according to our research.
While it’s home to numerous historical monuments and some scenic beaches, the state ranked second to last in the nation in quality of life and health care.
On the other hand, the state also has the country’s second-cheapest senior care – with the average yearly cost of a home health aide at under $38,000 and a year in an assisted living community at roughly $37,000.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
SEE LINK for the Top 10 Best/Worst States, @ Click here for more information:
SOURCE Caring.com, https://www.caring.com
- 2015 Cost of Care Survey (Genworth)
- 2014 State Long-Term Services and Supports Scorecard (AARP, The Commonwealth Fund and The SCAN Foundation)
- 2015 State of American Well-Being (Gallup-Healthways)
- Over 100,000 consumer reviews of senior care facilities (Caring.com)
With more than three million visitors per month, Caring.com is a leading senior care resource for family caregivers seeking information and support as they care for aging parents, spouses, and other loved ones. A Bankrate company headquartered in San Mateo, Calif., Caring.com provides helpful caregiving content, online support groups, and a comprehensive Senior Care Directory for the United States, with nearly 105,000 consumer ratings and reviews and a toll-free senior living referral line at (800) 325-8591. Connect with Caring.com on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and/or YouTube.
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Ted Rossman, Public Relations Director, email: firstname.lastname@example.org; tel: 917-368-8635