The Best and Worst States to Grow Old

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Old Couple Maine
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11. Maine
> Pct. of pop. age 65 and up: 18.8% (2nd highest)
> 65 and over poverty rate: 8.8% (19th highest)
> 65 and over bachelor attainment: 30.4% (8th highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 79.1 years (25th highest)

Of people living in Maine, 18.8% are 65 or older, the second largest such share after only Florida. While partially due to younger residents leaving the state, the high share could certainly also indicate favorable living conditions for older Mainers. Housing is relatively affordable in Maine. While nationwide most renters aged 65 and over spend about a third or more of their income on rent, in Maine just 41% spend such a large portion of their income on rent, the second lowest such share. Adults of any age living in Maine are also considerably more likely than people in other states to have a personal doctor, which is often critical for older individuals. Just 11.6% of adults in Maine do not have a personal doctor, the third lowest share of all states and close to half the national percentage of 21.5%.

North Dakota Badlands
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12. North Dakota
> Pct. of pop. age 65 and up: 14.2% (11th lowest)
> 65 and over poverty rate: 8.9% (18th highest)
> 65 and over bachelor attainment: 19.8% (7th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 79.5 years (18th highest)

Seniors living in North Dakota are not especially financially well-off, nor are they especially well educated. The median income for elderly households in North Dakota is $36,971 a year, and fewer than 20% of adults 65 and over have at least bachelor’s degree, each among the lowest figures of all states. Affordability, as well as plenty of social establishments and medical facilities, however, help make North Dakota one of the better states to grow old in. Goods and services in the state cost approximately 8.5% less than the national average. Also, for every 10,000 North Dakotans, there are 41 social establishments — including social advocacy groups, zoos, sports facilities, bowling lanes, and bed-and-breakfast inns — the fifth highest concentration of such venues. There are also close to six hospitals for every 100,000 people, several times the 1.4 hospital to 100,000 person ratio nationwide.

Suburbs, Connecticut
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13. Connecticut
> Pct. of pop. age 65 and up: 15.7% (19th highest)
> 65 and over poverty rate: 7.2% (11th lowest)
> 65 and over bachelor attainment: 31.3% (6th highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 80.8 years (3rd highest)

Many elderly Americans struggle to achieve financial independence and security. As many of them stop working, they rely exclusively on Social Security and their savings. In Connecticut, seniors are more likely to be well off. The typical elderly household has an annual income of nearly $50,000, about $9,000 more than the median income for elderly households nationwide. Senior citizens also struggle more often than other age groups with a disability — 35.4% of all Americans 65 and older have some kind of debilitating chronic condition. In Connecticut, just 31.0% of seniors have such a disability, the lowest proportion of any state.

Wheatfield, Gage County, Nebraska
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14. Nebraska
> Pct. of pop. age 65 and up: 14.7% (18th lowest)
> 65 and over poverty rate: 7.4% (17th lowest)
> 65 and over bachelor attainment: 22.8% (16th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 79.5 years (20th highest)

Entertainment venues, social organizations, and other institutions can combat isolation and improve the quality of life of the elderly in a given area. These include performing arts companies, sports stadiums, museums, historical sites, libraries, bars, casinos, golf course and country clubs, religious organizations, and many other venues. In Nebraska, there are 36.8 such social establishments for every 10,000 residents, compared to the 30.1 per 10,000 people nationwide. Nebraska’s elderly also have easier access to medical facilities with 4.7 hospitals for every 100,000 state residents, the fourth highest ratio in the country.

Hot air balloons over Boise City, Idaho
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15. Idaho
> Pct. of pop. age 65 and up: 14.7% (19th lowest)
> 65 and over poverty rate: 8.7% (20th highest)
> 65 and over bachelor attainment: 24.5% (22nd lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 79.2 years (23rd highest)

Generally, older individuals are at greater risk than others in unsafe communities. Therefore, a low violent crime rate is especially important for elderly residents. Idaho’s violent crime rate of 215.6 incidents per 100,000 people is among the lowest of all states.

Elderly Idahoan households are not especially well-off financially, with a median income of $37,321 a year. To compare, the typical elderly household nationwide earns an annual income of $40,971. However, the homeownership rate among elderly householders, at 84.1% is third highest of all states.