A new study says Kentucky is the worst state to retire in.

The study by WalletHub says Florida is first followed by South Dakota, Colorado, New Hampshire and Virginia.

To develop their data, WalletHub's analysts compared the 50 states across three key dimensions that included affordability, quality of life and health care.

According to WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez, Kentucky ranked last for several reasons, including having a large share of population aged 65 plus who could not afford a doctor visit, having the third highest risk of social isolation for seniors and the fifth largest share of elderly population in poverty.

Kentucky ranked 48th in quality of life and 47th in health care while finishing 32nd in affordability.

"Aside from the factors already mentioned, other things that contributed to Kentucky having the third lowest quality of life are the fifth smallest elderly volunteer rate, just under 19 percent, and the fact that the state has poor drinking water quality," Gonzalez said. "In regards to healthcare, Kentucky has one of the lowest numbers of dentists per capita, the third smallest number of home health aides per capita, and a geriatrician shortfall. Moreover, only about a third of the elderly population is in good health -- the second lowest share in the country."

Mississippi and Arkansas were the only states below the Commonwealth in quality of life while Alabama, West Virginia and Mississippi ranked lower in health care.

While WalletHub ranks Kentucky low, those in the state disagree with the rankings.

Jeff Rubin, a state advisor and Berea-based national consultant on community and aging issues, says too often the data being used in surveys is skewed to the advertiser's objective.

"For every survey saying one thing, you can almost always find another to contradict it," he said in a statement to The Register. "Using affordability, quality of life and health care as criteria, a case can be made for a lower ranking for Kentucky but certainly not 'worst.'"

Rubin pointed to several examples, including the the United Health Foundations 2018 Health Rankings, which placed Kentucky at 45th out of 50. He also mentioned the AARP's Livability Index that gives Kentucky a 48 percentile score out of 100 on 8 factors of livability impacting quality of life in each state.

"Taking livability even further, one will find that Kentucky received an above average score on Affordable Housing (56%), Regional Air Quality (52%), and Educational Opportunities (55%)," he said. "Should a retiree wish to consider where they might wish to live in Kentucky, they might also take a look at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's County Health Rankings survey. The survey measures 34 factors affecting health and longevity by county and state. Madison County was ranked 31st out of 120 Counties for health outcomes in Kentucky."

Scott Wegenast, associate state director -- communications for AARP Kentucky, said Kentucky hasn't earned the worst ranking in the WalletHub study.

He pointed to Kentucky being a good place to retire for its people, natural beauty and deep traditions of family life, along with the state being affordable.

"According to WalletHub, Kentucky is 'tax friendly' for pensions and Social Security income and also ranked 11th for annual cost of in-home services," Wegenast said. "And Kentucky is increasingly becoming a more age-friendly state with the work to make communities more livable at every age."

Wegenast said for those looking to retire to take a second look at the Commonwealth. He and Rubin both said one needs to conduct their own research and compare Kentucky using multiple data sources.

To read the WalletHub study, visit https://wallethub.com/edu/best-and-worst-states-to-retire/18592/. To view the AARP Livability Index, visit www.aarp.org/livabilityindex.

Jonathan Greene is the editor of The Register; follow him on Twitter @jgreeneRR.

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