We’re the #1 state to age in, according to U.S. News.
U.S. News recently ranked every state on a variety of factors and, on the aging criterion, Colorado ranked first. Anyone who’s been swiftly passed on the trail by a hyper-fit retiree hiker can agree our state is an ideal location to spend your golden years. But what exactly is setting us apart?
Leading Life Expectancy.
This past May, CO made waves after the University of Washington published a study on life expectancy in all U.S. counties. The winners? Colorado’s ski country. At a whopping 87 years, those citizens live two decades longer than those in counties with the lowest score. And outside those counties, almost all of Colorado ranks higher than average.
Exceptional Medicare and Nursing Home Quality.
Out of all 50 states, the quality of Colorado’s Medicare system ranked tenth, and its nursing homes ranked sixth. These are essential systems for citizens to turn to turn as they age. Civic leaders at all levels are focusing on bolstering these services to meet growing need. It’s no secret the population is aging. In 2012, 14 percent of the U.S. population was over 65. In 2050, it’s projected to be 22 percent. The Colorado State Demography Office predicts a 77 percent increase in the over-65 population in our state. Those people will need care and, in CO, they know it will be quality.
Active, Healthy and Able-bodied Citizens.
Perhaps we have our land itself to thank for our senior’s health. We’re an active bunch, us Coloradans. We have a great wild at our fingertips, and we heed its call. Not surprisingly, across the board we rank high on physical ability: from general health (third) to having able-bodied citizens (ninth) and amount of physical activity (third). All these numbers add up to physically capable, fit citizens who grow to become physically capable, fit seniors.
Low Stress and Big Opportunities.
Health isn’t defined solely by body condition, but mental condition, too. If seniors feel financially threatened, or are fearful of unstable or inaccessible healthcare – if they don’t have access to transportation or other vital communities, they might feel distress, which would negatively affect health at all levels. Colorado was ranked fifth in the country for low mental distress. And, with nearly 20 percent of over-65 citizens staying in the workforce, our unemployment ranking (sixth) matters.
Public-Private Partnerships With Big Impact.
This past Sept., Gov. John Hickenlooper and Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne announced a partnership with NextFifty, an independent nonprofit dedicated to enriching and improving the lives of seniors. NextFifty is helping fund a Senior Advisor on Aging position in Hickenlooper’s office. This role’s sole responsibility is senior and age-related issues such as health care, transportation, and housing.
Other projects around the state are making an impact on the lives of CO’s seniors, today and tomorrow. Denver South Economic Development Partnership helped put on the Prime Health Challenge in October. There, many of the innovative solutions were aimed at making healthcare serve seniors better. In fact, the winner of the challenges was Nymbl, an application that patients and doctors will use in tandem to increase balance ability and drastically reduce falls – a common threat for seniors.
When aging just feels like living, we’ve succeeded.
Being a healthy senior means vitality. It means meaningful engagement with the community. It means mental well-being, as well as physical. It means living (and working!) in a secure, vibrant economy free from financial burden. This is what Colorado wants for all citizens, not just seniors. We all age. We all have a personal stake in our state’s senior-supporting infrastructure. Through a focus on health, well-run government programs, and revolutionary innovation, aging in Colorado and Denver South can continue to be a non-issue.