Special Report

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

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25. Iowa
> Life expectancy at age 65: 84.5 years (tied – 17th highest)
> 65 and older poverty rate: 7.1% (6th lowest)
> 65 and older pop. with a disability: 31.1% (tied – 9th lowest)
> Median income for 65 and older households: $42,995 (25th highest)
> Population 65 and older: 537,818 (17.0% – 18th highest)

Remaining socially engaged through retirement can greatly improve quality of life — and in Iowa, doing so is likely easier than in other states. There are 84.5 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 Iowa, the fifth highest concentration among states.

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24. Rhode Island
> Life expectancy at age 65: 84.6 years (tied – 15th highest)
> 65 and older poverty rate: 11.2% (5th highest)
> 65 and older pop. with a disability: 32.4% (17th lowest)
> Median income for 65 and older households: $42,424 (19th lowest)
> Population 65 and older: 182,645 (17.3% – 14th highest)

Rhode Island ranks relatively poorly in the income category of our index gauging the best states for older Americans. With 11.2% of residents 65 and over living in poverty, the state has one of the highest senior poverty rates of any state.

However, in other categories, such as health and education, it ranks better than the majority of states for older Americans.

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23. California
> Life expectancy at age 65: 85.7 years (2nd highest)
> 65 and older poverty rate: 10.5% (8th highest)
> 65 and older pop. with a disability: 33.5% (23rd lowest)
> Median income for 65 and older households: $54,272 (6th highest)
> Population 65 and older: 5.7 million (14.3% – 6th lowest)

Life expectancy at age 65 in California is an additional 20.7 years to 85.7 years, the second highest among states and higher than the additional 19.4 years national average. Life expectancy in the state is high despite a lower than average share of older state residents who have their own doctor or health care provider and a lower than average concentration of hospitals.

Additionally, while the median income among retirement-age households in California of $54,272 is higher than in most states. Also, the state’s high cost of living means a dollar does not go as far. Goods and services in California are about 15% more expensive on average than they are nationwide.

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22. Nebraska
> Life expectancy at age 65: 84.4 years (tied – 23rd highest)
> 65 and older poverty rate: 7.6% (tied – 12th lowest)
> 65 and older pop. with a disability: 33.7% (24th highest)
> Median income for 65 and older households: $42,851 (24th lowest)
> Population 65 and older: 303,998 (15.8% – 16th lowest)

Only 41.3% of 65 and older households in Nebraska have some form of retirement income, the third lowest share of any state. Still, Nebraska’s 65 and older poverty rate of 7.6% is lower than most states and the 9.4% national average. The greater financial security among the state’s older population is likely due in part to a low cost of living. Good and services are about 10% less expensive on average in Nebraska than they are nationwide.

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21. Maine
> Life expectancy at age 65: 83.7 years (15th lowest)
> 65 and older poverty rate: 9.1% (tied – 20th highest)
> 65 and older pop. with a disability: 33.8% (23rd highest)
> Median income for 65 and older households: $40,435 (9th lowest)
> Population 65 and older: 276,069 (20.6% – the highest)

Maine has the lowest violent crime rate of any state in the U.S. and the fourth lowest property crime rate, which improves overall quality of life. The state also has one of the lowest shares of 65 and older residents who do not have a doctor or health care provider, at 14.8% compared to the national share of 22.8%.

However, Maine compares poorly to most states in the senior income section of our index. Just under 45% of retirement-age households in the state have some form of retirement income such as a pension or 401(k), tied with Oklahoma as the ninth smallest share among states.

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