| ORLANDO, Fla., June 20
ORLANDO, Fla., June 20 Retirees who move to
Florida and Arizona - popular retirement destinations - may not
be getting the quality of life they expect, according to a
study that ranked U.S. states by their long-term care services.
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,"
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
The study took into account whether services are available
to keep increasingly frail people in their homes rather than
costly nursing facilities.
"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.
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
"As they begin to run out of private resources, they'll move
home," Polivka said.
(Editing by David Adams and Will Dunham)