Known for being the smallest state in the Union, Rhode Island might be what some would consider a flyover state and simply not worth the time of day it would take to visit. Though comfortably nestled in the northeastern portion of the United States, pre-retirees and retirees are likely to forget about this little gem of a state given the outsized personalities of its neighbors like Connecticut and Massachusetts. The Ocean State holds its own, however when it comes to offering effective, high-quality health care. Rhode Island even offers eligible seniors free in-home medical alert systems, which just might leave you thinking twice about this slight state.
Do not let the square area of this coastal state fool you as it is the eighth densest across the entire nation! Of the over 1 million folks who consider themselves Rhode Islanders, 16.5% of them are in the over-65 crowd. This equates to approximately 175,000 persons, but, more importantly, a dedicated focus on those nearing retirement or who are already enjoying their golden years. Only nine other states outspend Rhode Island when it comes to health care and the state’s Division of Elderly Affairs, or DEA, invests a little over $9,000 per year on this segment of the population.
Even though Rhode Island is small, getting around can be tough given the density of the population. The state has some of the longest first responder wait times in the country with time spent in the ER tallying 30 minutes, awaiting admission another 135 minutes and discharge processing accruing another 158 minutes. Broken bone? Tack on another 55 minutes. The state does offer transportation services, but investing in a medical alert device that provides instructions and directions on how best to help you in an emergency might be worth considering as it will get you that much closer to feeling better.
Health services account for most of the economic revenue for the Ocean State, which means strong university systems that provide state-of-the-art cancer treatment alongside more traditional facilities that have a storied history of long-term care. The U.S. News & World Report concurred with an eighth-place finish as supported by a ranking of sixth in overall accessibility, 16th in public health and 13th for quality of care. McKinsey & Company also placed the state in the top ten with a sixth-place rating, which was driven by a first-place finish for adult check-up accessibility and a runner-up finish for older adult dental care visits. The latter gave affordability an 11th placemark and overall insurance coverage a sixth-place ranking.
Rhode Island’s DEA offers a mix of traditional senior support services as well as more nuanced options in the event the older adult looking to retire here has a known medical condition unique to only a handful of persons. In the latter category, the DEA offers meals on wheels, pharmaceutical assistance plans, housing help, easily accessible food banks and legal services. Some of the newer services include the Ocean State Senior Dining Program wherein older folks can visit any of 75 locations around the state, five days a week for a nutritious lunch. Additionally, and as previously mentioned, many citizens could qualify for a free in-home medical alert system. These systems are more than just fall-protection devices, however, as they help seniors avoid a premature move into assisted living.
Rhode Island is tiny, but, again, don’t be fooled as it is mighty, too! This is especially so when it comes to caring for its aging populace. The state is still nestled in the Northeast and could be a bit pricey depending on how far one needs to stretch his or her pension. The state has higher costs than most for homes, overall cost of living expenses, gasoline and property taxes. There are a great many tools, however, that eligible seniors can employ to ensure they have sufficient housing and heating or cooling as allocated by the DEA. Senior well-being is high, though, and this might just be because of the various programs that stop you worrying and start you living that carefree lifestyle you earned!