Florida, a retiree mecca with the nation's highest proportion of
residents 65 or older, ranked 43rd, while Arizona, another top
choice for retirees, came in at 21st in rankings by the AARP Public
Policy Institute released this week.
Minnesota, Washington state and Oregon led the nation. On the other
end of the scale, the Southern states of Kentucky, Alabama and
Mississippi scored worst.
The rankings evaluated how well states help people who need
assistance with routine activities of daily life such as bathing and
eating because of a physical or cognitive long-term health
The lead author on the report, Susan Reinhard, said the difference
between top- and low-ranking states was a commitment to effectively
care for the aging population.
“What strikes us is that the states that take this very seriously
and plan for it are the ones that make progress,” Reinhard said.
The report noted that long-term care is unaffordable for
middle-income families in all states, with state Medicaid programs
stepping in to cover a substantial share of the costs. Top states
scored very high on Medicaid performance, the report said.
The study took into account whether services are available to keep
increasingly frail people in their homes rather than costly nursing
"You can serve three times the number of people in communities than
you can in nursing homes," Reinhard said.
Quality-of-life issues included whether those needing personal
services can choose their providers and whether family caregivers
had legal protections to take leave from work.
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Margaret Lynn Duggar, head of the Florida Council on Aging advocacy
group, said healthy and active people should consider quality of
elderly care along with climate and cost of living when choosing a
place to retire, but rarely do.
“If you’ve got services in Ohio where you live now, it doesn’t occur
to you to check out what’s available in Orlando where you might
retire,” Duggar said.
Larry Polivka, executive director for the Claude Pepper Center at
Florida State University in Tallahassee, which researches aging
policy, said many Florida retirees stay in the state only as long as
they remain healthy or can afford in-home help.
“As they begin to run out of private resources, they’ll move home,”
(Editing by David Adams and Will Dunham)
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