Where You Live Affects Your Health in Older Age

People all age very differently;  sometimes it’s genetics, often it’s lifestyle but where you live may also contribute to a healthier old age.   When older adults are considering where they want to spend their retirement, it pays to research not only which communities are age-friendly by being accessible or walkable but also where there is the best quality of health care, low crime and plenty of cultural activities to enjoy that promote social interaction.

According to a study by The Centers for Disease Control’s Senior Living, seniors in these states reported the best health across the country:  New Hampshire, Colorado, Utah, Minnesota, Iowa, Vermont, Rhode Island, Washington, South Dakota and Maryland.  The top most unhealthy states in 2016 for American seniors were:  Mississippi, West Virginia, Kentucky, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Alabama, New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma. 

Although it’s difficult to pinpoint whether differences in cultural norms for a healthy lifestyle or access to health care can explain the significant differences in the health of senior citizens between states, southern states do tend to have higher rates of obesity and diabetes along with more scarce medical resources.

Studies have found that older adults who suffer from chronic illness are more susceptible to depression.   If seniors are not physically active due to illness, they may risk becoming socially isolated which can affect not only mood but memory as well.  Communities that offer programs to encourage and support seniors, even those with health problems, in staying active and socially connected will enjoy better overall health and a sense of well-being.

The number of American seniors over 65 is expected to surpass 398 million citizens by 2050, and with greater rates of chronic illness including diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol, health care services are facing what could be considered a crisis.  

To find how well your state fares according to the CDC Healthy Aging Data follow this link.  And for global rankings of how well other countries care for their elderly, visit the Age Watch website here