Best and worst states to grow old in

Friday, August 18, 2017

Utah residents who look forward to retiring in their state just got some good news in a report that names the state as the best in which to grow old. Those who hope to age gracefully in Wyoming, North Dakota, and New York may face more of a challenge. Those states are ranked as the three worst. All 50 states were ranked by the elder care resource site Caring.com on 13 categories including quality, cost, and availability of health care for seniors. The calculations also incorporated a state-by-state well-being ranking for older Americans. Utah, No. 17 in well-being, had respectable scores across all the categories and was the only state to make it into the top 15 for both quality of life/health care (No. 7) and cost (No. 14).

Here are the best and worst states for growing old, according to the report, followed by the median monthly cost of an assisted-living facility.

Utah $2,950

Iowa $3,518

South Carolina $3,000

Washington $4,500

Nebraska $3,510

Wyoming $3,995

North Dakota $3,340

New York $4,136

Indiana $3,528

West Virginia $3,263

New York, No. 33 in the well-being ranking, was singled out by Caring.com for its extremes. The very high cost of the state’s health care doesn’t produce results close to commensurate with that spending, according to the report. While New York ranked 46th in cost (the lower the rank, the higher the cost), its life/health care quality rank was 34 (the lower the rank, the worse the quality). Massachusetts had a similar pattern; it ranked 49th in cost and 18th in quality. That’s reflective of a larger trend in the U.S.-high spending on health care isn’t translating into longer lives, as this interactive graphic demonstrates.

Higher costs show more of a payoff in Washington state and California. Washington is 38th for cost and is the top state for quality of life and health care. California has a cost ranking of 36 and quality ranking of 3 (it’s tied with Oregon for quality).

The ranking, which drew on data from the U.S. Census, the insurer Genworth, AARP, the Commonwealth Fund, and Gallup-Healthways, among others, also factored in 150,000 consumer reviews from Caring.com’s database of facilities and care providers for seniors. The availability, quality, and cost of care for the elderly got greater attention in the report than some of the common measures used in retirement destination rankings.

The report’s greatest utility is in sparking serious thought about how you want to grow old, and in helping you get a feel for how realistic that is given how and where you’re living now. Rankings are just a starting point for more investigation, and an excuse for initiating conversations with loved ones and friends about the options they’re considering.