The number of retired baby boomers increased by 3.2 million in 2020, compared to 2019, according to Pew Research Center. That was the largest increase since 2011, when the oldest members of the generation first hit retirement age. Americans reaching retirement may seek a place where they can spend their golden years in good health. Nationwide, the health and well-being of older Americans vary considerably from state to state.
In order to determine the best state for a healthy retirement, 24/7 Tempo created an index using 17 health indicators for Americans 65 and older from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Healthy Aging Program.
In order to stay healthy in older age, it is important that people eat a healthy diet, avoid unhealthy habits like smoking and get preventive medical care like vaccinations and disease screenings. Yet it can be difficult for some, especially those on a fixed income, to afford medical care. It is important that retirees have a good idea of what their cost of living will be so they can aim to save enough to avoid financial hardship. This is what it costs to retire in every state.
2020 introduced a new health concern for older Americans: the COVID-19 pandemic. The novel coronavirus is more likely to cause severe, even fatal, disease in older people. State and local leaders therefore have prioritized older residents to receive COVID-19 vaccinations. However, not every place has proven equally adept at getting their vaccine supply into the arms of those who need it.
Washington is the best state for a healthy retirement. Here’s why:
> Population: 7,614,893
> Pct. of population 65+: 15.9% (eighth lowest)
> Disability, 65+: 37.7% (fifth lowest)
> Older adults who don’t exercise: 23.2% (second lowest)
> 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered, March 2: 8.5% (20th highest)
> Flu vaccine in the past year, 65+: 58.4% (13th highest)
> Primary care physicians: 85 per 100,000 (11th most)
> Avg. retirement income: $31,605 (14th highest)
Americans 65 and older in Washington are more likely to lead healthy lifestyles than those in much of the rest of the country. For example, older residents are more likely to eat their daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables than older Americans are in most other states. Both men and women in Washington 65 and older are also more likely to receive preventative screenings than older Americans in most states are.
Washington’s older residents also tend to be physically active. Some 23.2% of people 65 and older do not exercise, the second smallest share nationwide. Older adults in the state are less likely to feel physically and mentally unwell than the typical American aged 65 and older. Of the state’s older residents, 6.2% reported feeling frequent mental distress, below the 7.9% share nationwide and the eighth-lowest share of all states.