Washington state helps older adults live their best lives, whereas Nevada is at the bottom of states having the most improved outlook for older adults, according to a new ranking.
San Francisco-based Seniorly compared physical health, mental health, finances and social factors data across all 50 states and the District of Columbia to determine how metrics have changed over the past decade. A total of 12 individual ranking factors awarded points with a best possible score of 306.
Although no state earned a perfect score, Washington was the top state overall, scoring 248.8, just two points ahead of North Dakota. Washington scored highest across three of the four categories, ranking second in physical health and social factors and fifth in finances.
Massachusetts (228.8), New Hampshire (228.2) and Vermont (213.6) rounded out the top five states.
Most of the states that performed best in the physical health category ranked near the top of the list. Washington, D.C., sixth overall, had the biggest drop in average death rates over the past decade from the top five causes of death in older adults: heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes. Vermont and Massachusetts tied for fourth in the physical health category.
At the other end of the spectrum, Nevada scored the lowest, at 76.3, ranking second worst for physical health, and in the bottom 15 for social factors and finances. The state scored 10 points behind Michigan on the rankings.
Utah (91.8), Arkansas (94.4) and Hawaii (94.6) rounded out the bottom five states on the scorecard.
Several states traditionally considered popular destinations for older adults did not rate highly in the analysis, including Florida, which ranked in the middle of the pack.
Few states are doing well when it comes to mental health for older adults, according to the rankings. Only 13 states saw the rate of suicides among older adults fall in the past decade, whereas only five states showed improvement in the numbers of older adults reporting not having any bad mental well-being days. Maine was the only state to show positive movement in both areas.
Financial well-being among older adults was a mixed bag. Every state saw an inflation-adjusted increase to monthly Social Security retirement checks. But more than half of states have older adults with incomes below the poverty line.
South Dakota and North Dakota showed top 10 improvements in the share of older adults living in poverty and in retirement check increases. Illinois was among the worst states for both older adults living in poverty and average Social Security monthly benefits.
In determining which states made the most progress in preventing social isolation in older adults, the ranking looked at the percentage of those 65 and older living alone and the percentage of older adults without internet access.
All states saw an increase in the population of older adults in the past decade, whereas all but five states — Arizona, Idaho, Michigan, Nevada and Vermont — saw their share of older adults living alone decrease. The percentage of older adults without internet access fell in all but 10 states.