Special Report

All 50 States Ranked From Worst to Best for a Healthy Retirement

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5. Iowa
> Population: 3,155,070
> Pct. of population 65+: 17.5% — 17th highest
> Disability, 65+: 41.1% — 18th lowest
> Older adults who don’t exercise: 32.8% — 20th highest
> 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered, Mar 2: 5.9% — the lowest
> Flu vaccine in the past year, 65+: 59.7% — 7th highest
> Primary care physicians: 73 per 100,000 — 21st fewest
> Avg. retirement income: $23,244 — 3rd lowest

Iowa’s residents 65 and older report feeling better, both mentally and physically, than older residents in almost every other state. Just 4.6% of older Iowans report frequent mental distress in a given month, the lowest share in the country and well below the 7.9% national average. The age group also reports an average of 4.4 physically unhealthy days per month, a full day below the national average of 5.5 days a month and the fourth lowest rate among states.

These positive health outcomes could be due to the high level of preventive care in the state. Some 45.0% of women 65 and older are up to date on important immunizations and cancer screenings, the eighth largest share among states. Even a higher share of older male residents are up to date, as 46.0% have had the recommended clinical preventive services, the sixth largest shares in the country.

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4. Colorado
> Population: 5,758,736
> Pct. of population 65+: 14.7% — 5th lowest
> Disability, 65+: 32.4% — the lowest
> Older adults who don’t exercise: 21.6% — the lowest
> 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered, Mar 2: 8.5% — 19th highest
> Flu vaccine in the past year, 65+: 55.9% — 22nd highest
> Primary care physicians: 82 per 100,000 — 15th most
> Avg. retirement income: $34,543 — 9th highest

Colorado older residents are the most active in the country. Just 21.6% of state residents age 65 and over lead sedentary lifestyles — well below the 32.3% share nationwide. Similarly, Colorado’s obesity rate among older adults is only 14.9%, the 10th lowest share of all states and well below the comparable national rate of 29.0%.

Older residents in Colorado are the least likely to have a disability. About 32.4% of state residents 65 and over report having any kind of disability, compared to 44.0% of older Americans nationwide. Colorado older residents are generally in good physical health. State residents 65 and older report an average of 4.5 physically unhealthy days in a given month, compared with the 5.5 unhealthy days reported by older Americans nationwide.

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3. New Hampshire
> Population: 1,359,711
> Pct. of population 65+: 18.6% — 9th highest
> Disability, 65+: 35.4% — 3rd lowest
> Older adults who don’t exercise: 27.8% — 9th lowest
> 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered, Mar 2: 7.2% — 10th lowest
> Flu vaccine in the past year, 65+: 50.7% — 12th lowest
> Primary care physicians: 91 per 100,000 — 7th most
> Avg. retirement income: $27,906 — 25th lowest

Older Americans in New Hampshire are healthier than those almost anywhere else in the country. A large share of state residents 65 and older seek and receive preventive care measures. Some 78.6% of 65 and older adults with pre-existing conditions are up to date on important clinical services such pneumococcal vaccinations, the highest rate in the nation. Older New Hampshire residents are also some of the least likely to have a disability, at 35.4% of adults 65 and over, the third lowest share of all states and much less than the 44.0% share nationwide.

New Hampshire’s older residents also report healthy habits. Only 7.6% smoke often or every day, the fifth lowest share nationwide. Also, just 27.8% of older residents do not engage in physical activity, far less than the 32.3% share nationwide.

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2. Maryland
> Population: 6,045,680
> Pct. of population 65+: 15.9% — 9th lowest
> Disability, 65+: 36.1% — 4th lowest
> Older adults who don’t exercise: 30.8% — 20th lowest
> 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered, Mar 2: 8.2% — 24th highest
> Flu vaccine in the past year, 65+: 56.5% — 20th highest
> Primary care physicians: 88 per 100,000 — 9th most
> Avg. retirement income: $39,025 — 2nd highest

Maryland’s 65 and older population tends to report relatively healthy lifestyles. For example, older residents are more likely to eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables a day than older Americans nationwide. Additionally, both older men and older women in the state are more likely to be up to date with the CDC’s recommended set of clinical preventive services than their peers in the U.S. as a whole.

Wealthier Americans can afford a wider range of healthy options related to diet and lifestyle. In Maryland, the average retirement income is $39,025 a year, the second highest in the country for the age group and well above the $30,512 national average.

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1. Washington
> Population: 7,614,893
> Pct. of population 65+: 15.9% — 8th lowest
> Disability, 65+: 37.7% — 5th lowest
> Older adults who don’t exercise: 23.2% — 2nd lowest
> 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered, Mar 2: 8.5% — 20th highest
> Flu vaccine in the past year, 65+: 58.4% — 13th highest
> Primary care physicians: 85 per 100,000 — 11th most
> Avg. retirement income: $31,605 — 14th highest

Americans 65 and older in Washington are more likely to lead healthy lifestyles than those in much of the rest of the country. For example, older residents are more likely to eat their daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables than older Americans in most other states. Both men and women in Washington 65 and older are also more likely to receive preventative screenings than older Americans in most states.

Washington’s older residents also tend to be physically active. Some 23.2% of people 65 and older do not exercise, the second smallest share nationwide. Older adults in the state are less likely to feel physically and mentally unwell than the typical American aged 65 and older. Of the state’s older residents, 6.2% reported feeling frequent mental distress, below the 7.9% share nationwide and the eighth lowest share of all states.