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States With the Best Well-Being Among Older Adults


In general, older adults (over the age of 55) in the United States tend to have a higher well-being compared with the broader adult population. Older Americans have better eating habits, fewer financial worries, and more community pride.

In general, older adults (over the age of 55) in the United States tend to have a higher well-being compared with the broader adult population. Older Americans have better eating habits, fewer financial worries, and more community pride.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index scores each state across 5 essential elements of well-being: purpose, social, financial, community, and physical. The Index is calculated on a scale of 0 (lowest well-being) to 100 (highest well-being).

“Older Americans express satisfaction with their standard of living, worry less about money, and say they have enough money to do what they want to do—all at higher rates than those younger than 55,” according to Gallup’s report.

For 2 years in a row, West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Ohio, and Indiana ranked as having the lowest well-being among older residents. Here, we look at the 10 states that ranked highest for well-being across all 5 elements.

(Note: Due to rounding, some states have the same score, but were not given the same rank.)

10. South Dakota

Score: 64.7

The only well-being element that South Dakota landed in the top 5 for was community, which is liking where you live, feeling safe, and having pride in your community. The state ranked fourth in this element, although it also did well (ranked seventh) for the financial element. The state ranked particularly poorly (33rd) for purpose in the older population.

The state actually ranked better across more elements for the general population, where it landed in the top 10 for purpose, financial, community, and physical.

9. Iowa

Score: 64.7

Iowa ranked within the top 5 in 2 of the elements of well-being and within the top 10 for a third element. The state was second for the financial element, which is the ability to manage your economic life to reduce stress and increase security; fifth for community; and sixth for purpose.

The state’s ranking for individual well-being elements was better for its older residents than for the general population. For the overall state well-being, Iowa only landed in the top 5 for financial.

8. Wisconsin

Score: 64.9

Wisconsin only ranked in the top 5 for the financial element, but it also performed well for physical, ranking seventh. The state doesn’t stack up as well when considering the well-being of the general population. While it is still in the top 10 for the financial element for the general population, it ranked 31st for both purpose and social.

7. Minnesota

Score: 64.9

Minnesota ranked well for financial (third) and for physical (sixth). It was outside the top 10 for the rest of the well-being elements. Minnesota performed similarly for the overall state well-being and performed better at some of the individual elements, such as community (ranked eighth for overall population and 12th for older population).

6. Alaska

Score: 64.9

Older residents in Alaska don’t have much of an advantage over the general population. The difference between the well-being score of older residents compared with all adults is just 0.8 points, which is smaller than the average difference nationwide of 1.7 points. Alaska ranked poorly for physical for older Americans (38th) but ranked a lot higher for the same element for the general population (sixth). In general, Alaska’s rank for each of the 5 elements was higher when considering the overall population and not just older residents.

The city of Anchorage actually ranked ninth overall for highest well-being for community—a rank which took in the total population, not just those over the age of 55.

5. Colorado

Score: 65.1

Colorado scored particularly well on the physical element, which is having good health and enough energy to get things done daily. The state came in second only to the state that topped the whole list for overall well-being for older adults.

There are 2 Colorado cities—Fort Collins and Boulder—that landed in the top 10 for having the best well-being when considering the general population.

4. North Dakota

Score: 65.2

North Dakota also has notably higher well-being compared with the general population, although the difference isn’t quite as large as it is in the next state on the list.

This cold Midwestern state ranked highest in the financial element, came in third for community rank, and just missed out on being in the top 10 for purpose. However, North Dakota ranked particularly poorly (45th) for the social element.

3. New Hampshire

Score: 65.2

In comparison to the rest of the population, older residents in New Hampshire have the largest well-being advantage. There is an index score difference of 3.1 points between older residents and the general population in the state. To put this into context, the difference nationwide between the 2 groups is just 1.7 points.

2. Arizona

Score: 65.2

Arizona ranked the highest in the social element, which is having supportive relationships and love in your life. The state landed in the top 10 for another 3 elements: purpose, financial, and physical.

The state also ranks well across elements for the general population, landing in the top 10 for purpose (sixth), social (seventh), and physical (eighth).

1. Hawaii

Score: 67

With more than 1 point between Hawaii and the states that came in second, the Aloha State has a significant lead on being named the state with the best well-being for older Americans. This is the second year in a row that Hawaii has claimed the top spot. In fact, the state claimed the top spot across 3 of the 5 elements: purpose, community, and physical.

The state also ranked first for overall population well-being. For the general population is ranked in the top 5 for 4 elements: purpose (fourth), financial (third), community (second), and physical (first).

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