Seniors Better Off Than Other Adults in CT; State’s Ranks #6 in Senior Advantage

Older adults living in Delaware have the largest well-being advantage relative to the overall state population, followed closely by Oregon, Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan and Connecticut.  A new state-by-state comparison examines the comparative well-being of Americans age 55 and older, and reveals that, nationally, people in that age category have higher well-being than the rest of the population. The inaugural report is based on data from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index®. The growing percentage of the American population over the age of 55 — a trend largely driven by the Baby Boomers entering later life — has important implications for a variety of stakeholders, including families, employers, healthcare providers and policymakers, according to the report’s authors. “State Well-Being Rankings for Older Americans” aims to fill the research gap.older-americans-cover-thumb

The report focuses on five elements of well-being: purpose, social, financial, community and physical. These five elements, according to Gallup and Healthways, create a composite picture of the well-being of older Americans in each state.  rankingsThe Well-Being Index is calculated on a scale of zero to 100, where zero represents the lowest possible well-being and 100 represents the highest possible well-being.  Connecticut’s well-being score was 64.5 for those age 55+, compared with 61.9 for the overall adult population.  The difference of 2.6 was the sixth highest among the states.

The state where older Americans' well-being advantage is smallest is Wyoming, followed by Alaska, Oklahoma, Nevada, South Dakota, Maine and Vermont.

In an absolute sense, Hawaii, Montana, South Dakota, Alaska and Iowa are the top five states for overall well-being for older Americans -- states that also have high well-being rankings for the overall population.  The next five: New Hampshire, Utah, Oregon, New Mexico and Connecticut.

That places Connecticut in the top 10 in the overall rankings for well-being for older residents, and for the well-being advantage its seniors have above the overall adult population in the state.  Connecticut has the 7th oldest population in the nation. GallupHW_WBI_2C

States with the lowest well-being for older Americans are also those where well-being as a whole tends to lag behind the rest of the country: West Virginia, Kentucky and Oklahoma. . The report is based on self-reported data from 114,388 interviews with individuals age 55 and older, and was conducted in conjunction with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) AgeLab.

“The greatest success of humankind is longer life. The challenge today for families and society is how to live longer, better with the highest state of well-being,” said Joseph F. Coughlin, director and founder of the MIT AgeLab. “Understanding our aging population, including Baby Boomers, the largest generation in our nation’s history, will be critical as we design policies and interventions to help older Americans thrive in all aspects of their lives.”

Three CT Metro Regions Reach Top 50 in USA for Well-Being of Residents

The well-being of residents in three of Connecticut’s metropolitan areas are among the nation’s top 50, ranking at #36, #37 and #48 in a national survey of community well-being that evaluated the top 100 metro regions in the country. The 2014 Community Well-Being Rankings are the latest annual surveys by the polling company Gallup and the consulting firm Healthways. Reaching the top 50 from Connecticut were the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk region (#36), West Hartford-Hartford-East Hartford (#37), and New Haven-Milford (#48), based on U.S. Census tract data. wbi_logo

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, surveyed residents to get a sense of their social, physical and financial health, as well as their sense of purpose and connections to their community -- all factors that contribute greatly to worker productivity, societal health costs and the economic competitiveness of a place, according to the polling firms as reported by Governing Magazine.

The 2014 rankings are based on 55-question surveys of about 176,000 people across all 50 states. The score for each community included metrics affecting overall well-being and five elements of well-being:

  • Purpose: liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals
  • Social: having supportive relationships and love in your life
  • Financial: managing your economic life to reduce stress and increase security
  • Community: liking where you live, feeling safe and having pride in your community
  • Physical: having good health and enough energy to get things done daily

mapThe Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk region ranked #5 in physical health, #43 in financial health, #58 in community ties, #63 in sense of purpose and #88 in social health.

The Hartford - West Hartford – East Hartford region ranked #18 in financial health, #20 in physical health, #30 in social health, #61 in sense of purpose and #62 in community ties.

The New Haven-Milford region ranked #6 in physical health, #47 in sense of purpose, #48 in social ties, #50 in financial ties, and #91 in community ties.

The South, Southwest and West Coast dominated the top 30, with Boston the only Northeast city, reaching that high.  California, North Carolina, Texas all have two communities in the top cover

Leading the list was Florida’s North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton area, which performed especially well in financial and physical health. Honolulu, Raleigh, California’s Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura area and El Paso, Texas, rounded out the top five.

El Paso was the only community to take the top ranking in two categories: sense of purpose and physical health.  That was also the only category to see a Connecticut metropolitan area reach the top 10. Elsewhere in New England, Providence-Warwick ranked #70.

The survey found that residents of high well-being communities exercise more frequently -- an important aspect of physical well-being -- but they are also more likely to report that someone close to them encourages them to be healthy, a critical component of social well-being. They are much less likely to be obese, they have fewer significant chronic health conditions, and they feel safe where they live. Those who feel safe where they live are, in turn, more likely to have access to a safe place to exercise and access to fresh produce, which are important community characteristics that are linked to lower levels of obesity.

Each community, defined as a metropolitan statistical area under the U.S. Census Bureau, received a rank in each category according to the strength of the responses from their residents and an overall rank as well.

Residents of the top well-being locations in the U.S. are “more likely to be thriving across each of the five critical elements of well-being, thus capitalizing on the synergistic benefits of each element acting in concert with one another,” the survey analysis indicated. “This may reflect what is perhaps the most important factor separating the nation's high well-being communities from those with lower well-being: a holistic view of well-being.”