Only Nevada ranks worse than Michigan in the nation for living conditions for older adults, according to a new study by the Seniorly Resource Center in San Francisco.
Seniorly compared the states across four major categories — physical health, mental health, finances, and social factors — with all categories having at least two individual metrics. A total of 12 individual ranking factors were included, and states were awarded points based on their rank in each factor, with a best possible score of 306.
The Great Lakes State ranked second-worst in mental health among seniors, third worst in average Social Security benefits, and 42nd in the number of seniors living alone. Michigan ranked in the middle of the pack for overall physical health.
“Washington was the top state overall (248.8 points) when it comes to providing a better life for older adults, while North Dakota was second, and Massachusetts was third,” says Stephen Anderson, chief strategy officer at the Seniorly Resource Center. “Nevada had the worst score (76.3), followed by Michigan (86.1) and Utah (91.8).”
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a decline in life expectancy for all Americans, a two-year drop between 2019 and 2020, the biggest single-year decline since World War II. That aside, older Americans are in many ways living better for longer than they were even just a half-decade ago, according to the study.
Seniorly’s analysis found that despite the recent drop in life expectancy, many of the problems common among older adults have eased over the past decade. For example, death rates from diseases like COPD, cancer, and heart disease, all of which are top causes of death for the elderly, have dropped.
Meanwhile, the average Social Security check has climbed (even after accounting for inflation), and fewer older people are experiencing issues that exacerbate social isolation, including living alone and lacking internet access.
The research looked at which states are best for older workers or single seniors and explored which states have seen the lives of seniors improve the most over the past decade — and which ones are falling behind.
Among the findings:
- Washington, D.C. had the biggest average decline in death rates from causes of death that disproportionately affect older adults, while Utah had the biggest average increase.
- Vermont had a 26 percent decrease in the suicide rate among older adults since 2011, while Montana had a 72 percent increase in the rate.
- COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2020, with only heart disease and cancer causing more deaths.
“Because conditions may be improving for older adults in many states, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re ideal landing spots for retirement,” Anderson says. “However, understanding where older adults are most likely to face fewer barriers to good health of all types can help individuals and families make informed decisions.”
For a more-detailed look at the study’s results, visit here.