Report: Georgia among the worst places for older adults to live

According to a new report, Georgia residents 65 and older aren’t living their best lives.

Caring.com rated the Peach State among the worst places in the United States for older adults.

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Although seniorliving.org reported that 32.5% of Georgians are over 50, Caring.com’s Best and Worst Places for Senior Living in 2022 shows the state has not been able to fulfill the needs of its growing aging population.

Georgia came in at No. 44 on the list. The state’s low ranking was based on five categories: health care, senior living and housing, transportation, quality of life, and affordability. Among cities around the nation, Atlanta ranked the highest of Georgia cities at No. 87 of 302. Atlanta was also the No. 2 best city for senior living and housing.

“Our research shows that affordability is a top priority for seniors and adults approaching retirement,” Jim Rosenthal, CEO of Caring.com, said in a press release. “While many people associate good weather and sunshine with the best places for retirement, our 2022 Senior Living Report offers a broader perspective on a range of factors that impact the wellbeing of seniors.

“We’ve compiled this guide to help seniors and their families identify places that address the needs and socio-economic conditions of older populations, particularly as they transition to retirement and consider making a move to a new area of our nation.”

Affordability

Georgia is No. 31 in the nation for affordability and ranks around the national average in housing costs, housing cost burden, income inequality and jobs per worker. The least affordable city in Georgia is Alpharetta. Alpharetta has greater housing costs, cost burden and income inequality than the national average, according to the report. While the cost of assisted living and memory care in Alpharetta is less than the national average, independent living is more expensive.

Health care

Georgia falls short in almost every category in health care, coming in at No. 43 of all states. Nationally, there are an average of 77 primary care physicians, 217 mental health professionals and 63 dentists per 100,000 people, according to the report. However, in Georgia, those numbers drop to 66, 112 and 49, respectively. Georgia ranks lower than the national average in COVID-19 vaccine rates and it has a higher COVID-19 fatality ratio.

Columbus ranks at the top of the state for health care. The city has 101 primary care physicians, 197 mental health care professionals and 84 dentists per 100,000 people. The rate of people vaccinated against COVID in Columbus is greater than the national average, and Columbus has a lower COVID fatality rate.

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Quality of life

“Quality of Life measures numerous factors that contribute to the access and opportunity seniors have for an active, vibrant life,” Caring.com said in its methodology.

With three unhealthy air quality days a year, Georgia has higher air and water quality and lower local industrial pollution compared to the national average. The American Lung Association’s 2022 State of the Air report found that although the city has improved, it still has the fourth poorest air quality in the Southeast. Atlanta water quality falls short, with 4.23% of Atlantans exposed to violations, which is around 3% higher than the rest of the nation. Decatur tops the list in Georgia as one of the best locations for quality of life and Macon sits at the bottom in Georgia and nationwide.

Georgia needs to improve access to public libraries, parks, grocery stores and jobs for better overall quality of life. Additionally, the crime rate in Georgia is higher than national average.

Living and housing

Georgia’s highest rank in all categories is No. 4 for senior living and housing, making it among the best in the nation.

The state has more than 60% of units with zero-step entrances, 0.85 age diversity, and 225 units of subsidized housing per 10,000 people. Atlanta is No. 2 nationwide for older adult housing. Meanwhile, Macon ranks lowest of Georgia cities at No. 120 in the nation.

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Transportation

Of all categories, Georgia is the lowest in transportation. At No. 49, traffic congestion, low public transportation and walkability puts Georgia at the bottom of the list. Columbus ranks the best of Georgia cities in transportation and Covington ranks the lowest.

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