Special Report

Best States for Healthy Retirement

45. Louisiana
> Pct. 65+ w/ disability: 39.7% (19th highest)
> Pct. 65+ obese: 28.2% (3rd highest)
> Flu vaccine in past year, 65+: 64.3% (7th lowest)
> Life expectancy: 75.4 years (4th lowest)

Many of the states where senior citizens are more likely to be in poor health are in the South, and Louisiana is one of them. Slightly more than 9% of retirement-age adults in the state experience frequent mental distress, the second highest share of any state in the country.

Poor health is likely partially attributable to poor diets. Only 21.2% of elderly Louisiana residents eat vegetables at least three times a day, the smallest share of any state.

44. Alaska
> Pct. 65+ w/ disability: 46.5% (the highest)
> Pct. 65+ obese: 22.9% (13th lowest)
> Flu vaccine in past year, 65+: 63.7% (6th lowest)
> Life expectancy: 77.9 years (16th lowest)

In addition to the bitter cold, which might be less than ideal for some retirees, Alaska is unfavorable to senior citizens for other reasons. One of the biggest problems for older Americans is the potential of developing a debilitating mental or physical condition. In Alaska, 46.5% of senior citizens have a disability of some kind, the highest share in the country.

43. Oklahoma
> Pct. 65+ w/ disability: 45.4% (2nd highest)
> Pct. 65+ obese: 26.1% (13th highest)
> Flu vaccine in past year, 65+: 70.9% (11th highest)
> Life expectancy: 75.6 years (5th lowest)

In Oklahoma, 45.4% of elderly residents have some sort of disability, the second highest share of any state. In addition to physical ailments, many of Oklahoma’s older citizens have unhealthy habits and unhealthy diets. Only about one-quarter of Oklahoma residents 65 and older eat the recommended daily amount of fruit, a smaller share than in any other state. Also, the 10.9% smoking rate among retirement-age adults in the state is the second highest in the country.

42. Arkansas
> Pct. 65+ w/ disability: 44.1% (3rd highest)
> Pct. 65+ obese: 23.7% (18th lowest)
> Flu vaccine in past year, 65+: 69.6% (15th highest)
> Life expectancy: 75.8 years (7th lowest)

On the whole, Arkansas’ elderly population fails to take several measures which can lead to better health outcomes. The elderly in the state are are far less likely than most elderly Americans to receive proper preventative medical care and screening or exercise. Colon cancer can be successfully treated and cured if caught early. However, only 66.6% of adults 65 and older in Arkansas receive colon screening, a considerably smaller share than the 73.1% of older Americans. Furthermore, 37.3% of the elderly population leads completely sedentary lives, far more than the 31.4% national rate.

41. Georgia
> Pct. 65+ w/ disability: 39.1% (21st highest)
> Pct. 65+ obese: 25.1% (20th highest)
> Flu vaccine in past year, 65+: 61.8% (3rd lowest)
> Life expectancy: 76.9 years (10th lowest)

Falling is the leading cause of deaths from injury for the elderly. While falls cannot be completely prevented, senior citizens can reduce their risk of falling by exercising regularly. In Georgia, where an above-average share of elderly residents lead sedentary lifestyles, 36.5% of residents 65 and older fall and sustain an injury each year, the fourth highest rate in the country.

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