Social Isolation for Elders and the Cause of Freedom


It’s been out for a few months, so readers who frequent this sort of Web site may have already come across WalletHub’s ranking of the “Best States to Retire,” which places Rhode Island 49th, better only than Kentucky.  What does the Ocean State in is the combination of low affordability and low quality of life for seniors.

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That latter point is what caught my eye this week in Adriana Belmonte’s summary of the ranking for Yahoo Finance:

Colorado and New Hampshire’s spots jumped out to [WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez], as well. New Hampshire has the lowest property crime rate, and is the fourth-best state overall.

“While they aren’t exactly the most affordable, these states ranked among the best to retire to,” Gonzalez said, noting both states’ high-quality health care and physicians per capita. “This is because they both have a low risk of social isolation, as well as a low share of the population aged 65+ in poverty.”

New Hampshire is 3rd for “quality of life,” which includes a variety of entertainment and leisure items (like “scenic byways” and “museums per capita”), as well as crime rates.  The subcategory also includes “risk of social isolation,” measured as follows:

This metric considers the following six risk factors of social isolation in population aged 65 years and older: a) Divorced, separated or widowed; b) Never married; c) Poverty; d) Disability; e) Independent Living Difficulty and f) Living alone.

That’s a cultural thing, and it points to a traditional view of life.  If you divorce or never get married, you have a higher risk of being alone.  Likewise (although it doesn’t appear that WalletHub measured this) if you never had children or if your children had to move somewhere else in order to find work, your risk of isolation goes up.

We most certainly shouldn’t compound the tragic events in people’s lives with unnecessary ridicule and stigma, but we’ve tended to forget an important point:  Traditional values are traditional for a reason.  They were learned over the course of centuries, not (as the ideological scions of Marx would have it) because they served some patriarchy or ruling elite, but because they made people’s lives better.  They also provided the foundation for freedom and for social advancement, which means losing our traditional values will actually bring us back toward rule by others.

In that regard, it is a telling coincidence that New Hampshire’s motto is “Live Free or Die.”

  • Makaha Ken

    WalletHub’s so called experts never seem to use the proper matrix of information to reach a meaningful value to rank a state on but yet because these are University or College PhDs or heads of research firms it seems everyone accepts their rankings and internet plus regular news media regurgitates their the misguided rankings.

    After all they used federal government data collections, reports and known standard industry comparisons to reach their conclusions. However a great majority of these reports were done with nearsighted tunnel vision on a single subject in mind not as a collective broad resource for the intent of WalletHub’s comparison.

    Although, Rhode Island’s ranking of #49 worst state to retire to does fall in line with Kiplinger assessment and a lot of other published standalone not rehashed information.

    WalletHub ranked Hawaii #40 (based on 65 sq mi of “Core Metro Honolulu” cost of living out of 599 sq mi of Honolulu and 11,000 sq mi for whole state) but Kiplinger did finally revisit their ranking of Hawaii and moved it up to one of the top rated states to retire to after saying in so many words; “If your retirement falls in line with Hawaii’s exceptions, it can be a gold mine for your retirement.”

    I did a spreadsheet comparisons of item-to-item cost of living between Woonsocket, RI to Honolulu, RI (no mortgage or vehicle payments as they were paid in full) and it turns out it cost $15,500/year cheaper to live retired in Honolulu, HI than in Woonsocket, RI.

    I own and live in a large condominium located in a gated/guarded 24/7 twenty-one acre private community over looking a very large walk to beach and ocean sunsets with tropical mountain waterfall views out of bedroom windows plus all the luxury common area amenities (heated swimming pools, Jacuzzi whirlpools, basketball and tennis courts and two 18-hole golf courses not to mention walk to 19th holes and resort restaurants). Because I am a senior citizen, I qualify for senior citizen exemption on top of my homestead exemption lowering my City and County of Honolulu property tax to $300/year.

    Social security, military, federal, state, municipal and most private business retirement income plus all out of state government retirement incomes are exempted from State of Hawaii income tax.

    State of Hawaii has 1 unified school district with 1 school superintendent plus all employees and educators are state employees funded by state sales tax, State Income tax and state fees. There are no seperate education taxes in Hawaii Like in Florida and other ststes.

    Hawaii has a county form of municipal government with only 4 mayor’s for whole state. State of Hawaii and municipalities do not property tax vehicles and boats.

    Hawaii sales tax is 4% on everything except perscription drugs.

    Median 365 day temperature in Hawaii is 78F degrees with a winter nighttime low of 60F degrees and daytime high of 95F degrees meaning only summer wardrobe needed to live here.

    Hawaii is ranked #1 happiest state in nation with least stressed population in the United States and longest living population and oldest population in the United States.

  • Rhett Hardwick

    This post reminded me of a friend’s observation that he would “never retire to a place that didn’t have a college”. Meaning a place with libraries, lectures and events. That serves to remind me of a friend who retired to a rural South Carolina town; a decision based almost entirely on costs. He is quite miserable.

    • Rhett Hardwick

      I just decided to Google a bit. I found a number of “Activities” for retired people. Unfortunately, few are in the evening. For instance an interesting sounding lecture series on the “Long Armistice 1919-1939″ takes place on Tuesday mornings from 10-11:30 AM. That would certainly beak up the whole day. I do commend the weekly lectures at the John Carter Brown library. But, the 4 PM starting time on Wednesdays can be awkward. Perhaps if you were in a position of “nothing else to do”. I am thinking of a retired Fire Chief that I know (why do they have more gold braid than a Fleet Admiral?) he has a job painting at the YMCA. He also instructs in Judo (or similar) and teaches a firearms license course. Gun clubs are relatively cheap, the Bristol bike path is free.

    • Makaha Ken

      Rhett Hardwick I spent over 20 years looking and visiting Hawaii to see if I wanted to retire here so it is not just about costs.

      I was born and raised in New England with all the Yankee Universities and Colleges, social, arts, black tie events, summer and winter sports amenities of VT, NH, ME, MA, RI, CT and NY spending many days sailing or skiing New England.

      I got tired of shoveling snow and running my snowblower especially after Blizard of 1978 and cold weather.

      State of Rhode Island throws its senior citizens under the bus when they retire so I was looking for a state that was senior friendly but also had most of the New England quirkiness that I grew up with.

      Hawaii fit the bill as back in 1800s it was the New England whalers that came to Hawaii hunting whales and left their mark on Hawaii. Then the New England missionaries came to Hawaii to save Hawaiians and teach them religion by stripping Hawaiians of everything including language, God’s, hula (story telling), land, foods, basically everything and made them put heavy woolen clothing on in 90F degree weather plus brought germs that killed almost 2/3rd of Hawaiian population.

      I am enjoying myself with something new each day that is free going on 13 years now as Hawaii provides free daily entertainment to keep tourists happy and residents be it parades, fesstivals, music, hula, water competitions, road races, fireworks shows, block parties concerts you name it! All beaches are free with free parking (some paved), free bathhouses, free showers, free picnic areas with tables and free beach, area cleaning and trash pickup.There are only 1.4 million of us that are residents and 10 million tourists visit every year.

      Hawaii state fiscal budget for 2019/2020 is proposed $15.6 billion based on Hawaii constitutional law taxing and collecting fees from 1.4 million Hawaii residents. To put that into perspective, 10 million tourists visit Hawaii every year infusing our economy with an extra 17.6 billion income over and above fiscal budget. Gambling is illegal in Hawaii and it’s waters.

      We residents of Hawaii receive a lot of state government services free or at reduced price that you on the mainland in your state pay for.

      This is mainly a blue state but it swings from time to time red. Government transparency in Hawaii state and municipal governments is shameful as we almost know the color underware they are wearing day to day.

      My local grocery store carries B&M Boston Baked Beans and hard shell Atlantic lobsters, little necks, quahougs and Jonah crabs but not soft shell clams. We get four harvests of sweet corn on the cob as we have a 365 day growing cycle in Hawaii.

      • Rhett Hardwick

        Sorry, didn’t mean to seem negative about Hawaii. MY intention was to comment on the isolation of seniors. Of course, people do vary so. I don’t think my comments are directed to those who “remember Woodstock”.

        • Makaha Ken

          Rhett Hardwick, you did not seem negative about Hawaii to me.

          A good website about retirement comes out of CT is and they have listed all the tax structures for each 50 states (look under Buyer’s Guide).

          What you probably don’t know is you can now fly direct nonstop from Boston, Logan to Honolulu, HI on Hawaiian Airlines new Airbus A330-200 wide-body jets with full food service in coach. RT coach is as low as $578 including all taxes and fees.

          Jack London (a literary master) wrote the following; “Tne Most Seductive Siren of the Sea;
          Hawaii is the home of shanghaied men and women, and of the descendants of shanghaied men and women. They never intended to be here at all. Very rarely, since the first whites came, has one, with the deliberate plan of coming to remain, remained. Somehow, the love of the Islands, like the love of a woman, just happens. One cannot determine in advance to love a particular woman, nor can one so determine to love Hawaii. One sees, and one loves or does not love. With Hawaii it seems always to be love at first sight. Those for whom the Islands were made, or who were made for the Islands,, are swept off their feet in first moments of meeting, embrace, and are embraced…. Truly, Hawaii is a woman beautiful and vastly more persuasive and seductive than her sister sirens of the sea.

          Hawaii is 2,500 miles from nearest land mass. It is made up of 132 non-connected islands stretching 1,500 miles long each island being the top of a volcano. Hawaii is the most isolated major population in the world. Hawaii is the most Southern landmass of the United States of America farther South than Key West, FL.

          • Rhett Hardwick

            Jack London also had an opinion on the Solomons:
            All the foregoing is quite true, and yet there are white men who have lived in the Solomons a score of years and who feel homesick when they go away from them. A man needs only to be careful– and lucky–to live a long time in the Solomons; but he must also be of the right sort. He must have the hallmark of the inevitable white man stamped upon his soul. He must be inevitable. He must have a certain grand carelessness of odds, a certain colossal self-satisfaction, and a racial egotism that convinces him that one white is better than a thousand niggers every day in the week, and that on Sunday he is able to clean out two thousand niggers. For such are the things that have made the white man inevitable. Oh, and one other thing–the white man who wishes to be inevitable, must not merely despise the lesser breeds and think a lot of himself; he must also fail to be too long on imagination. He must not understand too well the instincts, customs, and mental processes of the blacks, the yellows, and the browns; for it is not in such fashion that the white race has tramped its royal road around the world.