The Worst States to Grow Old In

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21. Wyoming
> Pct. of pop. age 65 and up: 15.0% (13th lowest)
> 65 and over poverty rate: 8.5% (24th lowest)
> 65 and over bachelor’s deg. attainment: 26.6% (25th highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 78.6 years (20th lowest)

Just 43.6% of senior-led households in Wyoming receive retirement income other than Social Security, one of the smallest shares of any state. Similarly, the median household income among households led by residents 65 and over is just $39,806 a year, more than $2,000 less than the $42,113 national median.

Despite the low incomes, Wyoming seniors likely have better access to health care than most elderly Americans, and have better health outcomes. There are 32 hospitals per 100,000 residents 65 and over in Wyoming, the fourth most of any state. Additionally, just 3,826 in every 100,000 senior citizens dies annually, one of the lowest mortality rates among senior citizens nationwide.

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22. Iowa
> Pct. of pop. age 65 and up: 16.4% (15th highest)
> 65 and over poverty rate: 6.9% (6th lowest)
> 65 and over bachelor’s deg. attainment: 21.7% (11th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 79.7 years (16th highest)

Iowa’s senior population has better access to health care institutions, and slightly better health outcomes than most elderly Americans. There are 23 hospitals per 100,000 residents 65 and older, the eighth most of any state. Just 31.9% of senior citizens in Iowa have a disability, compared to 35.2% of elderly residents nationwide. Similarly, the life expectancy of Iowa residents is 79.7 years, about eight months longer than the national life expectancy of 79.1 years.

Still, Iowa lags behind the nation as a whole in income and education. Just 21.7% of adults age 65 and above have a bachelor’s degree, and the typical senior-led household earns $39,433 a year. By comparison, the national college attainment rate for senior citizens is 26.7%, and the national median income for senior households is $42,113.

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23. Pennsylvania
> Pct. of pop. age 65 and up: 17.4% (7th highest)
> 65 and over poverty rate: 7.8% (15th lowest)
> 65 and over bachelor’s deg. attainment: 22.8% (14th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 78.8 years (23rd lowest)

Pennsylvania has one of the older populations of any state. Some 17.4% of the population is 65 and over, the seventh largest share. Of the 1.4 million households in the state led by senior citizens, 53% receive Social Security benefits, one of the larger shares nationwide. Despite the extra income, the typical senior household earns just $39,780 a year, more than $2,000 less than the national elderly median income.

While Pennsylvania’s elderly population lags behind the nation in wealth, the state has better access to transportation alternatives than most of the country. Walkable areas with public transit can help senior citizens continue to lead active, healthy lifestyles in old age and improve overall well-being. Perhaps indicative of the state’s walkability and effective transit infrastructure, some 9.2% of workers in Pennsylvania commute by walking or taking public transportation, the eighth largest share of any state.

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24. Delaware
> Pct. of pop. age 65 and up: 17.5% (6th highest)
> 65 and over poverty rate: 6.9% (6th lowest)
> 65 and over bachelor’s deg. attainment: 28.0% (20th highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 78.7 years (21st lowest)

Delaware ranks near the middle of states in a number of measures assessing income, education, and health of elderly residents. An estimated 28.0% of seniors in the state have a bachelor’s degree, more than the national elderly college attainment rate of 26.7%. Some 58.1% of senior-led households receive retirement income other than Social Security — the largest share of any state — and the median income among such households is $47,195 a year, more than the $42,113 national median.

While Delaware seniors are slightly more likely to be college-educated and wealthier than the average elderly American, they may have worse access to health care. There are just 4 hospitals per 100,000 state residents aged 65 and over, the least of any state nationwide.

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25. New York
> Pct. of pop. age 65 and up: 15.3% (23rd lowest)
> 65 and over poverty rate: 11.4% (4th highest)
> 65 and over bachelor’s deg. attainment: 28.0% (20th highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 80.4 years (6th highest)

Access to public transportation can help senior citizens lead active, healthy lives, and New York has some of the largest public transportation infrastructure in the world. Some 34.6% of workers commute by walking or taking public transit, more than four times the 7.8% national average and the largest share of any state. New York City’s Community Arranged Resident Transportation (C.A.R.T) program provides free transportation for the elderly in Manhattan, and a number of other towns throughout the state provide similar services.

New York has one of the healthier elderly populations. Just 32.9% of residents 65 and over have a disability, less than the 35.2% national figure. The life expectancy in the state is 80.4 years, the sixth longest of any state. Despite the positive health outcomes, some 11.4% of seniors in the state live in poverty — the fourth largest share in the country.