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CDC projects years of life and health after 65

Those in Hawaii best off, study of US states finds

ATLANTA — If you are 65 and living in Hawaii, here is some good news: Odds are you will live another 21 years. And for all but five of those years, you will probably be in pretty good health.

Hawaii tops the charts in the government’s first state-by-state look at how long Americans age 65 can expect to live, on average, and how many of those remaining years will be healthy ones.

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Retirement-age Mississippians fared worst, with only about 17½ more years remaining and nearly seven of them in poorer health.

US life expectancy has been growing steadily for decades, and is now nearly 79 for newborns. The figures released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate life expectancy for people 65 years old, and what portion will be free of the illnesses and disabilities suffered late in life.

‘‘What ultimately matters is not just the length of life but the quality of life,’’ said Matt Stiefel, who oversees population health research at Kaiser Permanente.

The World Health Organization keeps ‘‘healthy life expectancy’’ statistics on nearly 200 countries, and the numbers are used to determine the most sensible ages to set retirement and retirement benefits. But the measure is still catching on in the United States; the CDC study is the first to make estimates for all 50 states.

Overall, Americans who make it to 65 have about 19 years of life ahead of them, including nearly 14 in relatively good health, the CDC said.

But the South and parts of the Midwest clearly had lower numbers. That’s not a surprise, experts said.

Southern states tend to have higher rates of smoking, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and a range of other illnesses. They also have problems that affect health, such as less education and more poverty.

After Mississippi, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Alabama had the lowest numbers for both life expectancy and healthy life expectancy.

States with the best numbers included Florida — a magnet for healthy retirees — as well as Connecticut and Minnesota.

The numbers in Massachusetts were also high — 19.7 remaining years with 15 of them healthy.

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