July 1, 2014
Best States for Growing Old
Minnesota, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Alaska, Hawaii, Vermont, Wisconsin, California and Maine – these states may be the best places to grow old.
They came out on top in AARP’s new State Scorecard based on their access, cost and the quality of their care services for aging adults and on their supports for the most common form of caregiver – family members.
To see your state’s overall ranking, run your cursor over the map below. To see how your state ranks on other measures, click here.
Enid Kassner, an AARP vice president who helped developed the rankings, said the Scorecard is useful to the leading edge of the baby boom generation, who will start turning 80 in 12 years. For example, if having a say in selecting the individual professional who will provide care, such as bathing, dressing, or meals, is the top priority, California is the best place to be.
While Florida is known for its large elderly population, it ranks fairly low in terms of the share of its Medicaid budget devoted to caring for that population; Medicaid is the nation’s single largest source of funding for long-term care for the elderly. The highest turnover among nursing home staff? It’s clustered in four contiguous states: Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.
AARP’s Scorecard was based on numerous measures that fall into one of five categories: affordability and access to care; personal choice; quality of life and quality of care; the effectiveness of transitioning among various levels of care; and support for family caregivers. Visitors to the website can search based on each of these measures.
The last category above – support for family – is often overlooked but is important. One consideration is whether a state’s laws exceed standards set by the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which requires employers with more than 50 employees to allow workers time off to care for immediate family. Although FMLA does not apply to lower-paid workers in smaller companies, they may be least likely to have paid sick days to care for parents.
This creates a “terrible bind” for low-paid workers, Kassner said, because “they can’t afford services and can’t afford to take the days off.”