The Worst States to Grow Old In

Print Email

Source: Thinkstock

11. Montana
> Pct. of pop. age 65 and up: 17.6% (5th highest)
> 65 and over poverty rate: 8.9% (20th highest)
> 65 and over bachelor’s deg. attainment: 29.0% (16th highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 78.9 years (24th lowest)

Relative to its total population, Montana has one of the larger elderly populations. An estimated 17.6% of residents in the state are 65 and older, the fifth largest share in the country. Montana senior citizens are more likely to have a college education and receive Social Security income than the average elderly American. Some 29.0% of adults 65 and over have a bachelor’s degree, slightly more than the 26.7% national college attainment rate for the age group. Additionally, 92.5% of households led by a senior citizen receive Social Security benefits, the eighth largest share of any state. Despite the income supplement, the typical elderly household earns just $37,616 a year, nearly $4,500 less than the comparable U.S. median.

Montana’s senior population may also have better access to health care than the majority of elderly Americans. There are 34 hospitals in the state per 100,000 residents age 65 and over, the most of any state other than North and South Dakota.

Source: Thinkstock

12. Utah
> Pct. of pop. age 65 and up: 10.5% (2nd lowest)
> 65 and over poverty rate: 6.7% (4th lowest)
> 65 and over bachelor’s deg. attainment: 31.6% (7th highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 79.9 years (13th highest)

By a number of measures assessing the education, income, and health of elderly Americans, Utah ranks as one of the better states to grow old in. A college education can help preserve cognitive ability in old age, and 31.6% of adults 65 and over in the state have a bachelor’s degree — the seventh largest share of any state. College-educated adults are also more likely to earn high incomes. The typical household led by a senior citizen in Utah earns $49,308 a year, over $7,000 more than the U.S. median. Just 6.7% of residents 65 and over live in poverty, the fourth smallest share of any state.

Wealth and education are some of the primary factors that can lead to a long, healthy life. The life expectancy at birth in Utah is 79.9 years, about 10 months longer than the U.S. life expectancy and the 13th longest of any state. Approximately 3,955 in every 100,000 senior citizens dies annually, one of the lower elderly mortality rates in the country.

Source: Thinkstock

13. Oregon
> Pct. of pop. age 65 and up: 16.8% (11th highest)
> 65 and over poverty rate: 7.5% (8th lowest)
> 65 and over bachelor’s deg. attainment: 30.2% (12th highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 79.4 years (22nd highest)

The typical household led by a resident age 65 and over in Oregon earns $42,779 a year, roughly $700 more than the national median income among elderly households. Just 7.5% of Oregon seniors live in poverty, the eighth smallest share of any state. High incomes are often associated with high educational attainment, and 30.2% of residents 65 and over in Oregon have a bachelor’s degree — higher than the 26.7% national college attainment rate for seniors.

One factor that contributes to well-being in old age is freedom of movement. Walkable areas with access to public transportation allow residents a greater degree of mobility and physical activity, particularly for senior citizens. Indicative of the state’s walkability and effective transit infrastructure, some 8.0% of commuters in Oregon walk or take public transportation to work, the 10th largest share of any state.

Source: Thinkstock

14. Rhode Island
> Pct. of pop. age 65 and up: 16.5% (13th highest)
> 65 and over poverty rate: 9.1% (17th highest)
> 65 and over bachelor’s deg. attainment: 28.8% (18th highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 79.8 years (15th highest)

Rhode Island has one of the healthiest older populations in the country. Just 31.6% of residents 65 and older have a disability, the seventh smallest share in the country. The life expectancy at birth in the state is 79.8 years, about eight months longer than the national life expectancy and longer than a majority of states. One factor contributing to longevity in Rhode Island may be high college attainment among the state’s elderly population. Adults with college degrees are more likely to retain cognitive ability in old age, and they often live longer, healthier lives. Some 28.8% of residents 65 and over in Rhode Island have a bachelor’s degree, more than the 26.7% national college attainment rate among the elderly.

Source: Thinkstock

15. Maine
> Pct. of pop. age 65 and up: 19.3% (2nd highest)
> 65 and over poverty rate: 9.1% (17th highest)
> 65 and over bachelor’s deg. attainment: 28.1% (19th highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 79.3 years (23rd highest)

A college education can help seniors retain cognitive function in old age and can lead to better well-being overall. An estimated 28.1% of adults 65 and older in Maine have a bachelor’s degree, more than the national elderly college attainment rate of 26.7% and more than in a majority of states.

Maine is also one of the safest places in the country, and the senior population may also have better access to health care than a majority of elderly Americans. There were just 124 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 2016, less than half the national rate of 397 incidents per 100,000 Americans and the lowest violent crime rate of any state. There are also 13 hospitals per 100,000 residents age 65 and over in Maine, more per capita than the United States as a whole.