5 best and worst U.S. states to grow old

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    Retirement is often portrayed in advertising as active senior citizens enjoying the beach or a day at the golf course. But how realistic is that?

    Perhaps not very, since many Americans may enter retirement relatively active and healthy yet are likely to need long-term care or assistance as they enter their 80s. The average life expectancy of American men and women who are now 65 years old is 83 and 85 years old, respectively. Researchers have found significant health changes take place at age 80, which increases the risk of impairment or disability.

    Americans may want to think about retirement in a different way: Where should they live to age in the best way possible, said Tim Sullivan, vice president of Caring.com, which provides information for people who look after aging parents, spouses and other loved ones. Because retirement includes more than leisure activities, Americans should examine issues like the cost of long-term care in their state, how older residents in their areas rate their own well-being and the quality of care, he noted.

    "If you don't think about what your needs will be, you may run into some surprises," he said.

    "Our goal is to get people thinking about their 70s and 80s, and not just their 60s, and not to take for granted that their needs are going to be met."

    Don't despair if you live in one of the worst-ranked states, Sullivan said. There are many options within states, so the research is meant to give consumers a general understanding of what they might pay for long-term care or other assistance as they age, as well as the quality of care.

    "Just because you live in a state that's near the bottom, that doesn't mean you should panic, or if you live near the top, don't take it for granted," he said. "Look hard at resources in your area. Are they any good? Then you have to ask the question: Can you afford them?"

    Read on to learn about the five best and worst states in the U.S. for growing old.