Utah's baby boomers can expect to live to be 91.62 years old, according to a new "State of Longevity Report," by the social networking site Eons.com.
In the report released Wednesday, Utah is tied with two other states with the fourth-highest boomer life expectancy. Hawaii and Colorado are tied for first place at 92.15 years, and California is third with a life expectancy of 91.69 years.
The report is no surprise to Juliette Tennert, the state's top demographer.
"The states with the highest rankings ... tend to have healthier populations, better medical care available," Tennert said. "In Utah's case, particularly, the LDS population plays a role ... those folks abstain from unhealthy activities."
The Eons.com report is based on the result of 650,000 members who used the site's longevity calculator in the past year. The results were calculated using answers to questions about personal history, lifestyle habits, nutrition and exercise, medical checkups and family history.
As baby boomers age, Utah is also the nation's youngest state, creating a "double whammy" when it comes to allocating resources, says Tennert.
"We have such a high fertility rate and have many, many children," Tennert says. "On the other side of the spectrum, we have issues of providing care to an elderly population."
Within the next decade, the growth of the population needing long-term care will be outstripping the current level of state spending, said Maureen Henry, executive director of the Utah Commission on Aging.
Henry says two wild cards in the equation are people's health as they age and their financial stability. She says for the past few decades, people have been living longer and healthier. However, a growing obesity and diabetes epidemic could reverse that trend.
"Healthy behaviors don't just increase your life expectancy," she said. "They are also going to decrease your incapacity."
At the same time, people expand their choices for long-term care if they plan financially for retirement, says Henry. Henry, a former elder law attorney. He says even a small savings account could mean more options for clients from being able to remodel their home to make it more accessible to having a broader range of options when choosing an assisted living facility or nursing home than if they had to rely on Medicaid.
"We were encouraging people to plan for their retirement, not just what to do when they're 68 and still healthy," says Henry. "But really having a plan for if they are in the substantial proportion of people who wind up needing a substantial period of care."
In the meantime, the Eons.com report's author, Dr. Tom Perls, director of the New England Centenarian Study, provides tips on healthy aging ranging from physical and mental exercise to maintaining a positive attitude and social interactions.
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