Quick: what state is known for great faces, great places and motorcycle rallies each August? Well, known other than South Dakota, of course! Even if you are not a fan of Harley Davidsons or the wonders that surround Mount Rushmore, there is still a great deal to love about this Midwestern state. South Dakota ranked as one of the top places to retire by AARP based on health care affordability, quality of health care and medical alert reimbursement schemes that leverage the power of the Internet. If this is making you think twice about retiring out west, then read on to learn more.
South Dakota certainly does not lend itself to densely populated cities or counties given its vast geographic reach. Still, Sioux Falls and Rapid City are not small towns and the state overall continues to see almost a two percent rate of growth year over year. Those aged 65 or older make up 16% of the total population, which numbers just over 850,000 persons. One interesting note regarding this segment of the populace is the number still working well into their golden years. Third only to Alaska and Vermont, this Midwestern state prides itself on keeping seniors gainfully employed and independent longer.
Even though South Dakota is a sizeable state, emergency response times are some of the best in the nation. The state has reduced emergency room wait times to 14 minutes with discharge taking place in a total of 48 minutes. Just imagine spending less than an hour getting the care you need in a pinch. Still too long? Not worry! The state’s Department of Human Services, or DHS, recognizes that time spent waiting could still result in longer than is truly necessary recovery times, or worse. Thus, the DHS has implemented the Telehealth system. This involves getting you in touch with remote emergency care personnel who can quickly assess your situation, consult on what is going on, provide treatment, educate you on to do next time and then follow-up with the care management plan they provide. What’s more, is most of the video and monitoring is reimburseable!
As previously mentioned, South Dakota takes older and disabled adult care very seriously. The annual report put out by U.S. News agrees and ranked the state high on quality of care (#11), public health (#29) and overall access to health care (#28). McKinsey & Company concurred with similar rankings for affordability (#6), older adult dental visits (#13), checkups (#32) and health insurance enrollment (#33). Health care is only one piece of the equation, though, since quality of life should count for something. This critical metric was still relatively high at 19th, but the state, like the rest of those in the United States, are not for everyone. Seniors looking to make the move should think about how snow or wind could force them indoors if they are worried about taking a spill or hard fall.
South Dakota continues to maintain strong marks across the board when it comes to health care for older adults. The DHS goes farther than just the Telehealth system to include more traditional programs such as transportation and meal assistance. The department also offers caregiver support, chore services, nursing assistance, protective considerations, foster care and homemaker help. The goal of the state, however, remains keeping those persons capable of living on their own just as independent as they were when they first relocated to the state. Still, if it comes down to long-term care, then South Dakota is still a good choice for retirees as nursing homes and assisted living facilities only cost only $73,000 and $37,000, respectively, per year.
South Dakota might initially appear to be an odd choice for pre-retirees and those of retirement age, but the state empowers and supports older adults well into their 60s, 70s and 80s. The state helps those who may want to keep working in gainful employment while simultaneously providing high-quality health care to those who may just want to take it easy. What’s more, the state and DHS are taking health care to the next level by providing older adults with mobile Telehealth support alongside more traditional means of assistance. Ultimately, South Dakota is not for everyone, but with great faces, places and community events, well, there might just be something for even the staunchest critics to learn to love.