Special Report

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

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30. Arizona
> Population: 7,278,717
> Pct. of population 65+: 18.0% — 13th highest
> Disability, 65+: 40.7% — 15th lowest
> Older adults who don’t exercise: 29.8% — 16th lowest
> 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered, Mar 2: 8.2% — 25th highest
> Flu vaccine in the past year, 65+: 50.6% — 11th lowest
> Primary care physicians: 66 per 100,000 — 11th fewest
> Avg. retirement income: $30,168 — 20th highest

Leading a healthy lifestyle typically requires regular doctor visits. Older adults in Arizona may struggle to get regular checkups as the state has one of the lowest concentrations of health professionals per capita. There are 66 primary care physicians per 100,000 residents, the 10th lowest concentration among all states.

Staying healthy at an older age also requires getting necessary screenings and other preventive care. People 65 and older in the state are not as likely to get the preventive care they need compared to older adults nationwide. For example, 50.6% of older residents received their flu shot in 2018, the 10th lowest share among all states. Additionally, only 36.1% of older women are up to date with the recommended clinical preventive services, the eighth lowest share in the nation.

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29. Georgia
> Population: 10,617,423
> Pct. of population 65+: 14.3% — 4th lowest
> Disability, 65+: 46.9% — 12th highest
> Older adults who don’t exercise: 33.5% — 18th highest
> 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered, Mar 2: 7.1% — 9th lowest
> Flu vaccine in the past year, 65+: 52.6% — 17th lowest
> Primary care physicians: 65 per 100,000 — 7th fewest
> Avg. retirement income: $30,990 — 17th highest

Georgia’s older adults are more likely to feel physically and mentally unwell than the typical American aged 65 and older. Of the state’s older residents, 9.5% reported feeling frequent mental distress — well above the 7.9% share nationwide and the seventh highest share of all states. State residents 65 and older also reported 5.9 physically unhealthy days in the last month, 12th highest among states.

Georgia ranks towards the middle of states as a good place for a healthy retirement in part because 65 and older state residents are more likely to receive certain disease screenings than residents of the age group in most other states. Four out of five 65 and older women have gotten a mammogram in the last two years, the second highest share among all states. Georgia also has the ninth highest rate of older adults who have been checked for colorectal cancer in the last decade, at 78.3%.

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28. North Dakota
> Population: 762,062
> Pct. of population 65+: 15.8% — 7th lowest
> Disability, 65+: 44.8% — 18th highest
> Older adults who don’t exercise: 31.0% — 22nd lowest
> 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered, Mar 2: 10.8% — 5th highest
> Flu vaccine in the past year, 65+: 57.5% — 18th highest
> Primary care physicians: 77 per 100,000 — 24th most
> Avg. retirement income: $26,286 — 14th lowest

In North Dakota, older adults are less likely to feel either physically or mentally unwell than the typical American 65 and older. Just 5.1% of older state residents reported feeling frequent mental distress, the third lowest percentage of any state and well below the 7.9% rate nationwide. Older residents also reported 4.9 physically unhealthy per month, compared to 5.5 days per month nationwide.

In spite of this, North Dakota still ranks in the bottom half of better states for a healthy retirement. This is in part because 34.4% of older adults in the state are considered obese — the second highest share and well above the national obesity rate for the age group of 29.0%.

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27. Wisconsin
> Population: 5,822,434
> Pct. of population 65+: 17.5% — 18th highest
> Disability, 65+: 34.6% — 2nd lowest
> Older adults who don’t exercise: 31.0% — 22nd lowest
> 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered, Mar 2: 9.0% — 10th highest
> Flu vaccine in the past year, 65+: 45.4% — 3rd lowest
> Primary care physicians: 79 per 100,000 — 20th most
> Avg. retirement income: $26,744 — 20th lowest

Wisconsin’s residents 65 and older are among the most likely not to get the flu shot. About 45.4% of the state’s older adults report receiving the flu vaccine, the third lowest proportion of all states and well below the comparable national share of less than 54.0%. Accessing critical preventive care may also be a problem in the state for older residents. Only 36.5% of Wisconsin 65 and older men and 33.6% of 65 and older women are up to date with the CDC’s recommended set of clinical preventive services. Both shares are among the lowest of all states.

Older adults in Wisconsin are more likely than the typical older American to struggle financially during retirement. The average retirement income in the U.S. is $30,512 a year. In Wisconsin, it is $26,744.

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26. Michigan
> Population: 9,986,857
> Pct. of population 65+: 17.7% — 14th highest
> Disability, 65+: 41.3% — 19th lowest
> Older adults who don’t exercise: 30.8% — 20th lowest
> 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered, Mar 2: 8.6% — 17th highest
> Flu vaccine in the past year, 65+: 51.9% — 15th lowest
> Primary care physicians: 78 per 100,000 — 21st most
> Avg. retirement income: $26,510 — 18th lowest

The average life expectancy at birth in Michigan is about 78 years, just below the national average life expectancy at birth of about 79 years. As in other states with a lower life expectancy, older adults in Michigan exhibit several other poor health outcomes. Older adults in Michigan are more likely to be obese than older adults in most other states. About 32.5% of residents 65 and older are obese, the 10th highest share among all states.

A relatively large share of Michigan’s older population struggles with mental health issues. The percentage of residents 65 and over who have struggled or currently struggle with depression, at 16.6%, is the 12th highest share among states. Nationwide, 14.4% of older Americans have been diagnosed with depression.