Special Report

The Best (And Worst) States for Older Americans, Ranked

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35. Georgia
> Life expectancy at age 65: 83.5 years (tied – 13th lowest)
> 65 and older poverty rate: 10.2% (tied – 11th highest)
> 65 and older pop. with a disability: 34.0% (tied – 20th highest)
> Median income for 65 and older households: $42,781 (22nd lowest)
> Population 65 and older: 1.5 million (13.8% – 4th lowest)

For older residents, Georgia compares favorably to many other states in the South, but it still ranks poorly relative to national averages. The state ranks relatively poorly in measures of senior health, with a below-average life expectancy at 65. It also has one of the highest shares of retirement-age residents who do not have a personal doctor or health care provider.

The state has one of the smaller senior populations in the country relative to the general population — just 13.8% of residents are 65 or older.

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34. Idaho
> Life expectancy at age 65: 84.4 years (tied – 23rd highest)
> 65 and older poverty rate: 8.6% (tied – 24th lowest)
> 65 and older pop. with a disability: 35.3% (14th highest)
> Median income for 65 and older households: $42,678 (20th lowest)
> Population 65 and older: 279,441 (15.9% – 20th lowest)

Remaining socially engaged through retirement can greatly improve quality of life. In Idaho, however, that may be more difficult than in other states. There are only 45.5 social organizations — such as clubs, bowling centers, golf clubs, fitness centers, sports organizations, or religious organizations — for every 100,000 65 and older residents in Idaho, well below the national concentration of 58.0 per 100,000.

Still, older Idaho residents are more likely than most older Americans to own a home and maintain independence. The homeownership rate among 65 and older Idaho residents is 83.6% — higher than in all but a handful of other states.

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33. Florida
> Life expectancy at age 65: 85.3 years (tied – 5th highest)
> 65 and older poverty rate: 10.6% (7th highest)
> 65 and older pop. with a disability: 32.8% (18th lowest)
> Median income for 65 and older households: $43,804 (24th highest)
> Population 65 and older: 4.4 million (20.5% – 2nd highest)

Florida is known as a state that many senior citizens choose to move to in retirement. Just over 20% of state residents are 65 and older, the second highest share in the country after Maine. Still, while Florida’s older population is more likely to find people their own age, they are also more likely to face financial difficulties. A relatively small share of the state’s 65 and over population have some form of retirement income, less than in most other states, and the state’s poverty rate among 65 and older residents of 10.6% is the seventh highest among states.

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32. Michigan
> Life expectancy at age 65: 83.9 years (tied – 18th lowest)
> 65 and older poverty rate: 9.0% (tied – 22nd highest)
> 65 and older pop. with a disability: 34.1% (tied – 18th highest)
> Median income for 65 and older households: $42,816 (23rd lowest)
> Population 65 and older: 1.7 million (17.2% – 15th highest)

In the senior income segment of our index, Michigan ranks favorably compared to most states. About 57% of state retirement-age households have some form of retirement income, the second highest share of any state. Michigan also has a below average senior poverty rate.

In measures of environment and access for older residents, the state does not perform as well. The state has a relatively low concentration of social associations per 65 and over resident and relatively few hospitals per capita.

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31. North Dakota
> Life expectancy at age 65: 84.5 years (tied – 17th highest)
> 65 and older poverty rate: 10.3% (tied – 9th highest)
> 65 and older pop. with a disability: 33.4% (22nd lowest)
> Median income for 65 and older households: $44,824 (21st highest)
> Population 65 and older: 116,433 (15.3% – 7th lowest)

Just 37.5% of 65 and older households in North Dakota have some have retirement income in the form of a 401(k), pension, or similar source, the smallest share of any state. Likely partially as a result, the state’s 10.3% elderly poverty rate is higher than average.

Still, quality of life for the state senior citizens is bolstered by the highest concentration of hospitals and the highest concentration of social associations — such as clubs, bowling centers, golf clubs, fitness centers, sports organizations, or religious organizations — of any state.

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