Healthcare Economy

The Worst State for a Healthy Retirement

The median age to which Americans live is just shy of 79 years. That is up from 39 in 1860. Older people in the United States come to face with two challenges. The first is how to fund their retirement. The other is how to stay healthy and pay for health care as they age. While Medicare and Social Security are good support systems, so are diet, exercise and other measures that help improve well-being, quality of life and longevity.

Healthy living has been made even more difficult by the COVID-19 pandemic. The people who have become sick and those who have died are predominately over 65. Even with vaccines, the risks remain, although they are modest. New variants and questions about additional shots to allow the body to combat the disease mean the future of COVID-19 in America is unpredictable.

Health care and quality of life change substantially from place to place, and some states are much better places for retirees to age while they remain healthy.

In order to determine the worst 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.

Alaska is the worst state for a healthy retirement. Here are the details:

  • Population: 731,545
  • Population 65+: 12.4% (second lowest)
  • Disability, 65+: 45.2% (16th highest)
  • Older adults who don’t exercise: 25.4% (fifth lowest)
  • Two doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered, March 2: 13.7% (the highest)
  • Flu vaccine in the past year, 65+: 49.0% (ninth lowest)
  • Primary care physicians: 91 per 100,000 (sixth most)
  • Avg. retirement income: $43,642 (the highest)

Alaska ranks as the worst state for a healthy retirement. With retirees often searching for a warm place to spend their golden years, Alaska is not a retirement destination. Just 12.4% of state residents are 65 and older, the second-lowest share of any U.S. state.

Many Alaskans live in remote locations, making access to regular medical care a challenge. Both older men and older women are less likely to be up to date with some clinical preventive services, such as cholesterol screenings, colonoscopies and mammograms. This also may be due to the financial struggles many older Alaskans face, as 8.1% of state households with residents age 65 and older rely on public assistance income. This is the highest share of any state and more than four times higher the nationwide rate of 1.8%.

Click here to see the best and worst states for healthy retirement.