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Healthiest States for Seniors: Minnesota and Utah Retirees Top List

Earlier this year, told you about the happiest states for seniors. That list was topped by Hawaii, Arizona, and New Hampshire. But what about the healthiest states for seniors? And the least healthy?

active adult

Physical activity is one of the measurements used to determine the healthiest states for seniors.

America’s Health Rankings’ 2017 Senior Report has offered up its rankings, based on 34 measures. The measures include obesity, exercise, smoking, excessive drinking, hospitalizations – even how often state residents 65 and older go to the dentist.

So in which states are retirees the healthiest? Let’s take a look:

The Healthiest States for Seniors

1. Minnesota

Minnesota is home to the Mayo Clinic, which ranks near the top for health care. The Land of 10,000 Lakes also provides seniors with good prescription drug coverage. The state has a high percentage of seniors who visit the dentist. About three-quarters of Minnesotans 65 and older said they had said “Ahhh!” within the past 12 months. Minnesota also has an unusually high number of personal care and home health care aides. That’s great news if you want to retire here and age in place.

Minnesota lake

Row, row, row your boat – that’s one way to stay healthy on Minnesota’s lakes.

[Retirement communities in Minnesota and Minneapolis]

2. Utah

The Beehive State has a strong economy, a plethora of diverse outdoor activities, and a low percentage of smokers. Utah also has a high percentage of senior volunteerism. Almost 46% of people 65 and older in Utah reported having volunteered in the past 12 months. Volunteering keeps you physically active, mentally sharp, and socially engaged, according to experts.

[Retirement communities in Utah and Salt Lake Valley]

3. Hawaii

Hawaii has the obvious benefits: beautiful weather, clean air, a less-hectic lifestyle, and natural surroundings that encourage outdoor activity. But the Aloha State also ranks first in the country for healthcare, according to a U.S. News analysis. As if that weren’t enough, Hawaiians have the longest life expectancy in the U.S., perhaps in part because obesity rates for seniors here are the lowest nationwide.

[Retirement communities in Hawaii]

4. Colorado

Living in Colorado is all about being in the outdoors. The Centennial State is home to sparkling rivers and crisp mountain air. So it’s no surprise that the state ranks No. 2 for low obesity and No. 3 for physical activity among residents 65+. But Colorado is home to cool cities like Boulder, too. In fact, Boulder ranked 10th in the nation for overall well-being in the latest Gallup-Healthways 2016 Community Well-Being Rankings.

[Retirement communities in Colorado]

5. New Hampshire

The Granite State should be getting used to the retirement spotlight. In a recent list, it was ranked the best retirement state in the country. America’s Health Rankings commends New Hampshire for having a low percentage of seniors living in poverty. One of the categories where the state was dinged, however, was for excessive drinking among the 65+set.

[Retirement communities in New Hampshire]

6. Massachusetts

While the Bay State isn’t cheap, and the winters can be both cold and snowy, seniors have some advantages, according to the health rankings. Massachusetts ranked No. 2 for community support for those 60+, and No. 2 for having a sufficient number of geriatricians.

[Retirement communities in Massachusetts]

7. Connecticut

The Constitution State ranks well because of, among other factors, a low percentage of adults who smoke. Instead, active-minded retirees here enjoy visiting historic towns in the spring, relaxing on the beach during the summer, leaf peeping in the fall, and skiing in the winter.

[Retirement communities in Connecticut]

8. Vermont

Vermont has consistently been listed as one of the healthiest states for seniors. In fact, nearly 50 percent of Vermont residents 65+ reported their health as very good or excellent. Bonus: The Green Mountain State is another popular option for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy activities like skiing.

9. Washington

The Evergreen State is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts, thanks to attractions like the Pacific Ocean, the North Cascades, and Mount Rainier. It’s also one of the most environmentally friendly states in the country – which means air and water quality is excellent. Retire here and breathe freely.

[Retirement communities in Washington State]

10. Wisconsin

The Badger State is home to cities like Madison – which is frequently included in “best places” lists due to its excellent health care, low crime rates, and the opportunity to stay physically and mentally healthy. The University of Wisconsin offers non-credit study opportunities for retirees.

[Retirement communities in Wisconsin]

The Least Healthy States for Seniors

map of healthiest states for seniors

Southern states generally fall into the bottom. Source: America’s Health Rankings 2017 Senior Report.

Of course, every ranking of 50 states has to have a bottom 10, too. In America’s Health Rankings, the least healthy states for residents 65+ were:

41. Georgia

42. Missouri

43. Alabama

44. Tennessee

45. West Virginia

46. Arkansas

47. Louisiana

48. Oklahoma

49. Kentucky

50. Mississippi

What Do You Think?

Have you retired in Minnesota or Utah, the top-ranked states? Or Kentucky or Mississippi, the bottom states? Share your thoughts on staying healthy in your home state in the comments below.

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  • Mark Edelen

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    Welcome to the Retirement Living Blog. I direct and edit the blog for the best senior-housing and senior-living insight and advice, while also conducting search-engine optimization for the site as a whole. Follow me on Twitter @MarkEdelen.


    1. Scott J says:

      I can’t believe Florida didn’t move up the scale… But maybe that’s because so many seniors move to Florida and spend their final years there? Thus the curve adjusts?

    2. Carlos Mendez says:

      Yes, “la dolce vitta” exists in Italy! Not only in the delicious regional cuisines from Naples to Lazio region from where Rome is part, but also to Siena, Florence, Volterra, Genova, Parma, Chianti, Milan, Bologna, Venezia… ah!

      To me, its the most democratic art-form: Italian Food.

    3. Carlos Mendez says:

      Hello Patty & Mark and everybody else interested in ITALY:

      I had the fortune of living and working in Milan, Italy back during the mid-eighties, it was the most interesting and life transforming experience of my life. It changed me. One profound example was the food! Italian food and its role within italian life and culture, it is fantastic and ultra-delicious! Food changes from region to region. From Venezia to Bologna, from Parma to Siena, from Milano to Torino (Turin), from the Lazio region, where Roma is its epicenter for gastronomic drama to the unbelievable “Cucina Napoletana” of Naples…
      I tend to think that probably there is no other cuisine in the world that expresses human passion and drama for life like Italian cuisine… It is gastronomic expression turned into Art. Fine Art, that is!

    4. Patty loar says:

      What are your thoughts of living 8, Italy

    5. Lonna Henry says:

      I would like more info to RENT in No. Carolina. Near Walkertown, NC. 27051. A house, apartment, condo or duplex for my husband and I. We are in our mid 60’s and have a son and family who live in Walkertown, N.C.

      Thank you.
      Mrs. Lonna Henry

    6. Charlotte Lewis says:

      I am a native of Arizona, this was where seniors came to have clean air & low crime. Not anymore! I have witnessed this state being trashed both physically & verbally. Makes me very sad.

    7. Many of these climates are freezing cold. How can you leave this out?

      • Only a few days per year are so cold here in Minnesota that you have to stay indoors. Many more are too hot in the Southwest or too wet and/or hot in the Southeast. I do disagree about healthcare here. If you don’t live in Rochester or the twin cities healthcare goes downhill fast!!

    8. Colorado wasn’t healthy for me because of the altitude and dryness.

    9. Carlos Mendez says:

      Dear Mark Edelen,
      Will be interesting (at least for me though…) to see how SL blog rates more oversees US territories
      besides incredible Hawaii; like the Samoa Islands, the US Virgin Islands (St. John, St. Thomas & St. Croix) and even Puerto Rico and its smaller islands towns of Culebra & Vieques, all part of
      paradise for many US citizens retirees. Thanks, and keep the great work!
      Carlos Mendez, San Juan, PR

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