Many older adults are getting tired of their friends and loved ones simply assuming they will make the move to Florida or Arizona when they hit retirement age. But did they know that the Sun Belt region is comprised of 13 states to include most of North Carolina? Even those nearing 65 years of age might be surprised to learn that this diverse state, which includes sand, sun and mountain ranges, is becoming a retirement mecca. Read on to learn just how to keep your best years in front of you when moving to this southern haven.
North Carolina continues to see a boom in its over-65 demographic. To wit, the state saw a 31% jump in just the last two decades followed by a 2% spike in just the past two years! This means that 1.5 million persons, or 15.5% of the total populace, are aged 65 or more. The state is taking aim at keeping up with this influx of older persons and continues to increase funding to its Division of Aging and Adult Services (DAAS). Still, retirees and pre-retirees are encouraged to invest in medical alert systems to keep them aging in place longer. The DAAS sees itself as a support agency alongside in-home and mobile alerts to avoid having to taking seniors out of their communities so as to place them in hospice.
Emergency care in the state of North Carolina does leave a little to be desired, especially in both rural and urban locations. The average time for ambulatory care is 26 minutes which is the ninth worst in the nation. On top of that is the 153 minutes spent waiting to be discharged or, conversely, the 110 minutes waiting for admittance. Broken bone? Well, expect to wait 54 minutes for pain relief. None of this should be too surprising, however, given that the state ranks 37th and 30th in the nation as ranked by the U.S. News & World Report as well as the McKinsey & Company annual health care review.
As previously mentioned, North Carolina is a very diverse state with beach to the east and mountains to the west. What’s more, there are a great many universities that line the thoroughfare between these two locales, which is also known as Tobacco Road. This singular lane plays home to medical centers associated with the likes of Duke University, North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina and Wake Forest University. These institutions offer older adults state-of-the-art cancer treatment options, information on managing diabetes and clinics dedicated to better understanding aging and human development. Older adults should still also consider taking advantage of the DAAS system and ensuring they have ready access to Medicaid and Medicare if that is something they would like to leverage for their long-term care needs.
North Carolina has an overall senior heath affordability ranking of 25th when reviewed by WalletHub. This same criteria was ranked 44th, however, by McKinsey & Company based on below-average scores in adult dental care, wellness visits and health insurance enrollment. Only nine states spend less than North Carolina on health per capita, which averages only $7,264 each year. This is why DAAS strongly encourages older folks moving to North Carolina to take precautions in their own health care and to invest in counseling, nutrition programs and, above all else, in-home medical systems. The division is especially concerned for seniors who may not be used to the heat and who could benefit from push-button alerts should they feel faint in the spring, summer or fall.
While North Carolina may not rank high on your list of likely places to retire, the state is making increasingly important changes to its health care system when it comes to elder care. DAAS is extremely committed to building out their current offerings around adult protective services, family caregiver support systems and legal subsidies. That said, this governmental agency still wants seniors to live as independently as is possible for as long as possible. This may or may not require the use of an at-home medical alert device or fall-protection system, both of which empower seniors to age in place longer and in the relative comfort of their own home. Not only will this alleviate strain on the current health care system, but it will also boost an older adult’s confidence and aid in their staving off depression and other minor mental declines.