America’s Best and Worst States to Grow Old

A new report from Caring.com, based on nursing home prices and other data

By Deb Hipp

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Where Should You Live Out Your Days?

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You're better off growing old in Utah than in any other state, according to a new report that ranks the best states to grow old when it comes to financial costs, health care and quality of life.

Iowa, South Carolina, Washington and Nebraska also ranked near the top. The five worst states to grow old were Wyoming, North Dakota, New York, Indiana and West Virginia.

The study, published by Caring.com, an online resource for family caregivers, skips the usual "best places" focus on early retirement recreation and cultural activities. Instead, it takes a longer view of aging, examining state-by-state costs and quality of senior living communities, nursing homes and in-home care.

The report aims to prompt people who are planning to retire or thinking about old age to look beyond immediate retirement, says Tim Sullivan, vice president of Caring.com.

"We want them to think about the long term and how their needs may change as they age into their 70s or 80s," says Sullivan. "It's important to evaluate whether they're going to be able to meet those needs as they age."

Caring.com used its own consumer reviews of care facilities and in-home care providers in addition to data from Genworth's 2016 Cost of Care Survey, which compares long-term care costs across the U.S.

The report also gleaned information from the Long-Term Services and Supports State Scorecard, which ranks state long-term services and support for older adults, people with disabilities and family caregivers; the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index and the U.S. Census 2015 American Community Survey.

The study covers 13 categories, including assisted living, nursing homes, home health aides (working 44 hours per week) and well-being and support for family caregivers. See the slideshow to learn more about each of the Top 10 states to grow old.

It serves as a reminder not only to people planning for retirement but also anyone who has an aging loved one, according to Sullivan. "If the quality and cost of assisted living communities and in-home care services of your region aren't on your radar or aren't part of your planning for retirement, they really should be," he says.

If your state is at the bottom, though, don't panic.

"That just means you can't take it for granted that everything is going to work out," says Sullivan. "The same thing can be said for the states at the top."

Click or swipe the slideshow above to see the top 10 states.

Best States to Grow Old

No. 1: Utah

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The Beehive State tops the Caring.com Best Places to Grow Old list, scoring No. 1 in effective transitions in and out of nursing homes, fifth lowest in the nation for assisted living costs and seventh for overall quality of life/health care.

However, Utah ranks 47th when it comes to choice of long-term care setting and providers for assisted living, nursing homes and home-based care. Older adults in Utah pay around $48,000 annually for a home health aide (assuming 44 hours per week), near the national median, and a low $35,000 a year for assisted living.

No. 2: Iowa

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This Midwestern state ranks seventh for lowest nursing home costs and ties with Colorado for eighth place in overall quality of life/health care. Like Utah, Iowa's home health aide prices are around the national median: the annual cost runs about $48,000. The same goes for assisted living for older adults in Iowa: it's approximately $42,000 per year, putting it at No. 23.

No. 3: South Carolina

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This Southeastern state has lower assisted living prices than many others and ranks sixth in the nation for lowest overall elder care costs. At the same time, it's also one of the seven worst states (43rd) for choice of long-term care setting and provider, according to Caring.com. Older adults in South Carolina pay around $36,000 for assisted living and $42,000 for home health aide costs annually.

No. 4: Washington

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Washington ranks first, according to Caring.com, for overall quality of older adult facilities and services and fourth for family caregiver support. But the Evergreen State is also the 13th most expensive for overall elder care costs. Assisted living in Washington costs about $54,000 annually, and home health aides run approximately $56,000 a year.

No. 5: Nebraska

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This prairie state ranks 14th for overall quality of life/health care, according to Caring.com, and gets high scores (seventh place) in adult day care prices. Older adults in Nebraska pay around $42,000 annually for assisted living, which is right around the national median of $43,000 for cost. Home health aide costs run about $53,000 a year.

No. 6: Arizona

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Arizona ranks No. 2 for well-being, but ties with Idaho at No. 23 when it comes to overall health care costs. Annual costs for assisted living and home health aide services average around $42,000 and $48,000, respectively.

No. 7: California

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The Golden State ties with Oregon for third place for overall quality of life/health care for older adults. California also ranks high (seventh) in family caregiver support. Older adults in California pay approximately $48,000 for assisted living and $55,000 for a home health aide annually.

No. 8: Idaho

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Idaho ranks 15th when it comes to overall quality of life/health care for older Americans, according to Caring.com. The state is 13th in annual costs ($38,000) for assisted living, but didn't score as well for nursing home costs, ranking 27th for a semi-private room, at around $83,000 per year. The yearly cost for a home health aide is around $45,000.

No. 9: Colorado

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Colorado comes in second for best family caregiver support in the Caring.com survey and ties with Iowa for eighth place for overall quality of life/health care. But it also also ties with Wyoming (ranked one of the five worst states to grow old) when it comes to overall health care costs. Older adults in Colorado pay around $48,000 annually for assisted living and $55,000 for a home health aide.

No. 10: Oregon

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You'll find some of the best overall quality of life/health care in the country in Oregon, which ties with California for third place in that category. The state also scores No. 1 for family and caregiver support and fourth for best choice of long-term care setting and provider. Older adults in Oregon pay roughly $49,000 a year for assisted living and about $52,000 for a home health aide annually.

But nursing home care runs high there: for a semi-private room, an older adult will pay about $101,000 annually, putting Oregon at No. 38 on the list, and the highest of the top 10.



By Deb Hipp
Deb Hipp is a Kansas City, Mo.-based freelance writer who covers elder and caregiving issues, personal finance and popular culture. Her work can be found at www.debhipp.com.

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