The Sun Belt is a likely destination for those looking to escape the brutal cold of the Northeast and Midwest while simultaneously boosting their spending power. Many older adults look to Florida or Texas in order to maximize their pensions, but there are 11 other states in this particular region that can increase your purchasing power and get you long days in the sun. One such state is South Carolina, which boasts fun coastal towns, professional-grade golf courses and historic plantations that will keep you exploring well past when the sun goes down.
Despite its demure size (NOTE: the state ranks 40th in overall area), South Carolina is densely populated with over 5 million folks calling this locale home. The number of those aged 65 and over numbers 840,000, or, roughly, 16.7% of the entire population of the Palmetto State. This is up nearly 35% from just two decades ago and continues to soar. Sadly, the Lieutenant Governor’s Office on Aging has struggled to keep pace and 13% of older adults are living below the poverty level. To put that in perspective, that is over 100,000 folks. Thus, if you do want to make the move to this sunny state, then you would be well-advised to consider whether you would need to bolster your medical care plan with an in-home monitoring device in order to ensure medical expenses do not put you in a situation where you cannot pay for utilities and the like.
Emergency care in the state of South Carolina has also struggled to keep pace with the surge in older folks moving to the state. While the average number of physicians to patients in the United States is 3.2 for every 1,000 citizens, South Carolina is at 2.6 doctors per 1,000 persons. This means that emergency room wait times are some of the worst in the nation at 29 minutes just to be tended to and nearly two hours to be discharged. Again, if you are looking to make the move to this clime, then a USB-enabled device might speed you through the admissions process as first responders would already know what allergies you have or whether you are currently recovering from a previous procedure.
As previously mentioned, South Carolina has been trying to improve care and access to care for older adults within the state. The Lieutenant Governor’s Office on Aging has very niche programs, however, that may not apply to all older adults. For instance, there is the Alzheimer’s Resource Coordination Center, trust fund guidance, evidence-based disease prevention and health promotion schemes and pet programs for seniors so that they can purchase pet food and other supplies for their pets. All of these initiatives are promising, but in the interim in-home and long-range medical alert devices might help those who are unable to pay utility bills, but who still need a means to reach first responders in the event of an emergency.
South Carolina fell short across the board when it came to health care rankings. The U.S. News & World Report placed the Palmetto State at 41st overall with subsequent rankings of 40th for accessibility, 35th for quality of care and 40th for public health. McKinsey & Company followed up these rankings by placing South Carolina at #40 due to less-than-optimal adult dental visit accessibility (#43), wellness checkup availability (#35) and affordability of care when accessed (#42). Sadly, the overall spending on care continues to hover well below the national average and ranges from just over $5,000 to almost $7,000.
Not everything is doom and gloom for this Sun Belt State, but South Carolina is not a strong contender for those in need of considerable health care or medical assistance. The state is affordable when compared to other densely populated states in the Northeast, but if you are moving from a tax-free haven, then you would be wise to see whether you might need to seek Medicare or Medicaid assistance. The number of older adults living below the poverty line is certainly cause for concern, but may not be abated for some time as the Office on Aging continues to funnel money toward other initiatives. Still, there are various means to remain safe in the state. These include fall-detection alert systems, in-home base monitors and mobile medical alert systems. Such an investment might result in upfront costs, but that should be only a minor factor as this type of technology ultimately ensures you can age in place longer and stave off the cost of nursing homes and similar care centers.