Successful Aging – Where Does Your City Rank?

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Retirement living and aging in place are almost synonymous with Arizona and Florida. So, how many of their cities made it into the recently released Best Cities for Successful Aging Index from the Miliken Institute? Just one.

Looking at 78 factors that most affect seniors’ quality of life, including health care, crime rates and weather as well as economic and job conditions, housing, transportation, and social engagement factors that help create a safe, affordable and connected community for seniors Provo, Utah earned the number one spot for large metro areas.

Provo scored high in a wealth of factors: its active, healthy lifestyle (the fewest fast-food outlets per capita); a No. 1 ranking in growth of small businesses; seven medical centers in the area, three of them magnet hospitals; and one of the highest numbers of volunteers per capita.

The top-ranking smaller city, Sioux Falls, S.D., has hospitals that specialize in geriatric services, and its booming economy provides a strong financial base, with the highest employment rate among seniors among the 259 small cities. (Full list at end of article.)

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“Cities need to be thinking about how best to make quality of life improvements for our rapidly-growing senior populations ? and such improvements benefit all age groups,” says the Honorable Henry Cisneros, a member of the index’s advisory committee, and the former Secretary U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as the former mayor of San Antonio, Tex. “What the Milken Institute’s index does for the first time is measure communities on the dimensions that matter most for seniors. It is a real breakthrough that will be vitally helpful for leaders in making policies, creating programs, and reshaping communities.”

One common attribute of many of the top-performing cities: the presence of a university. “These communities not only offer intellectual stimulation for seniors,” explains Milken Institute Economist Anusuya Chatterjee, co-author of the report with Ross DeVol, chief research officer. “Many also have top-notch university-affiliated hospitals that provide cutting-edge health care.”

The goal of the index is to encourage and promote best practices in how U.S. communities serve aging Americans.

The Top 10 large and small metropolitan areas are:

Ranking: 100 largest metros

  1. Provo, Utah
  2. Madison, Wis.
  3. Omaha, Neb.
  4. Boston, Mass.
  5. New York, N.Y.
  6. Des Moines, Iowa (tie)
  7. Salt Lake City, Utah (tie)
  8. Toledo, Ohio
  9. Washington, D.C.
  10. Pittsburgh, Pa.
Ranking: 259 smaller metros

  1. Sioux Falls, S.D.
  2. Iowa City, Iowa
  3. Bismarck, N.D.
  4. Columbia, Mo.
  5. Rochester, Minn.
  6. Gainesville, Fla.
  7. Ann Arbor, Mich.
  8. Missoula, Mont.
  9. Durham, N.C.
  10. Rapid City, S.D.
 

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