My sister, Renee, reminded me that between Nov. 19 and April 13 the three oldest adult “kids” in our family fall back in stair-step order.
That happened a lot during the post-World War II baby boom with the more than 75 million kids born from 1946 to 1964. Our older brother, David, turned 60 in April 2014. I hit 59 in July, and Renee turned 58 in November. We fall out of order when David advances to 61 this month.
Our younger brother, Vincent, who turned 54 in February boasts that in addition to being the youngest among us, he was born the same year as President Barack Obama. The stress of running the country and being the first African American to do so has earned Obama a lot of gray hairs and wrinkles. Vincent still looks youthful.
Aging is an inevitable part of life. But where we age may determine the quality of life that we might enjoy.
Renee has always said that as she gets older, she planned to say goodbye to the Midwest and forever avoid the Northern states. She has never been a fan of the snow, ice, sleet or the cold.
She planned to head to the South, Southeast or Southwest and call one of the states in those regions home. But Renee and millions of other baby boomers might want to rethink following the most popular migratory trend of the last few decades.
A ranking of the healthiest states in the U.S. for people age 65 and older doesn’t paint a pretty picture of the South. Missouri didn’t come out very well either.
The United Health Foundation’s 2013 ranking in the July-August AARP Bulletin put the Show-Me State of Missouri at 33rd — well below the top 25 in the U.S. Kansas ranked 18th.
Mississippi was 50th, and Minnesota was No. 1. I looked up the foundation on the Internet to see what the report measured and found that for 2014, Missouri actually dropped to 39th place while Kansas edged up to 17th.
America’s Health Rankings Senior Report: A Call to Action for Individuals and their Communities examines such data as obesity, physical inactivity, food insecurity and poverty in ranking states for overall senior health. For 2014, Minnesota again ranked No. 1 and Mississippi came in last.
“Minnesota’s strengths include ranking first for all health determinants combined, which includes ranking in the top five states for a high rate of annual dental visits, high percentage of volunteerism, a high percentage of quality nursing home beds, a low percentage of marginal food insecurity, a high percentage of prescription drug coverage and ready availability of home health care workers,” the report said. Minnesota also ranked in the top five for a low rate of hospitalization for hip fractures, a high percentage of able-bodied seniors, a low premature death rate and few poor mental health days per month.
The information is important because today one in eight Americans is age 65 and older. By 2050, that age group is expected to double in size, growing from 40.3 million Americans to 88.5 million as more of us baby boomers become senior citizens, the report notes.
Knowing where best to live could help seniors enjoy a longer, better life. What’s telling is a lot of the states in the South don’t have high rankings.
The bottom 12 were Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arkansas, West Virginia, Alabama, Tennessee, Nevada, Texas, Georgia and Missouri. “Mississippi ranks in the bottom five states for 14 of the 34 measures, including ranking last for a high percentage of seniors in poverty, a low percentage of seniors who report very good or excellent health, a low percentage of able-bodied seniors and a high premature death rate,” the report says.
The top 12 are Minnesota, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Delaware, Wisconsin, Maryland and Connecticut.
As people age, they may want to think more about the quality of life that states in the North afford.
Flying and settling in the South, may just be for the birds only.