Choosing whether and where to move is a balancing act for older adults and their families, according to the results of a new survey by The findings suggest an opportunity for senior living community marketers to educate prospective residents and their families.

That’s because a disparity sometimes exists between a state’s average costs for senior care and the accessibility of programs for the elderly and family caregivers in that state.

The San Mateo, CA-based senior care resource website examined 11 different variables  — among them each state’s cost of living index, the availability of senior healthcare programs and support for family caregivers, and the average cost of senior care — to determine the overall affordability of aging in all 50 states for adults 65 and older. Sources included Genworth’s 2017 Cost of Care Survey; the 2017 Long-Term Services and Supports Scorecard from AARP, the Commonwealth Fund and the SCAN Foundation; and the 2017 State-Level Cost of Living Index from the Council for Community and Economic Research.

“Sometimes, there’s going to be a trade-off,” Stephan Weiler, a professor of economics at Colorado State University and director of the university’s Regional Economic Development Institute, told the website. “In a lot of rural areas in the country, you’re going to have much cheaper costs, but you’ll probably have to make sacrifices when it comes to accessing medical care and senior facilities. Conversely, vibrant and attractive coastal or urban regions are going to be expensive but also brimming with care options. That’s just the nature of the beast.”

Highlights of the research:

  • Overall, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Missouri, Wisconsin, Idaho, South Carolina and Tennessee are the least expensive states for seniors.
  • Although Oklahoma is No. 1 on the list of most affordable states overall, it comes in third for the average cost of senior care, with a median annual cost of $36,390 for assisted living (more than $8,000 less than the national median of $45,000). Also, the state is ranked 24th for supportive policies and programs for the elderly and family caregivers.
  • Out of all of the top 10 most affordable states, Wisconsin ranks highest for elderly and caregiver support, placing sixth best in the country. The state is 23rd for overall cost of living (on an index of 103.9) and 19th for senior services costs. The median annual cost for an assisted living is approximately $48,000, higher than the national median of $45,000.
  • North Dakota, Hawaii, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Wyoming are the most expensive states for older adults overall.
  • Wyoming is the most expensive state in which to age, according to the research, with assisted living costing approximately $50,000 annually, or $5,000 above the national median. The state comes in second-to-last in the category of supportive policies and programs for the elderly and family caregivers, due to its rural nature.

See more results here.