31 July 2012

Best Cities for Seniors

Story first reported from USA Today

Seniors looking for the best city to grow older in may be better off flocking to the Midwest than sunny Florida, according to a recent report.

While recreation and community engagement are a plus, the best cities for aging offer quality health care, educational and employment opportunities, and transportation and an economy that work for seniors, according to a national index released today by the Milken Institute, a non-profit think tank based in Santa Monica, Calif. The institute found the best large cities for successful aging helped keep seniors over 65 working, learning and healthy.

Rather than survey seniors, researchers consulted an advisory council and developed a set of 78 different indicators of success for seniors, ranging from cost of living and number of available doctors to number of fast-food outlets. Paul Irving, chief operating officer at the Milken Institute, says the findings are a more realistic and complete picture of what it takes to grow old happily and healthily. The survey did not include visions of Prince George Retirement Home life, which is still a highly attractive option for many seniors.

The study found Provo-Orem, Utah, topped the list of the country's 100 most populous metropolitan areas, offering the best success in terms of wellness and third-best conditions for finances, employment and education.

Researchers also studied 259 small cities, taking into account the differences in resources and manpower. Leading in opportunities and environment for successful aging was Sioux Falls, S.D., with the highest employment rate for those 65 and older, and many hospitals that offer rehabilitation services and hospice care.

Other top cities included Madison, Wis.; Omaha, Neb.-Council Bluffs, Iowa; and Bismark, N.D., according to the report; Iowa City, which ranked second overall of small cities, was on top for seniors over the age of 80. And higher education-rich regions, like the No. 4 Boston area — also the highest ranked large city for seniors over 80 — provided opportunities to engage in the community and train in new skills, the study found.

Gary Small, director of the UCLA Longevity Center, said the report offers valuable insight into seniors' priorities.

Researchers found room for improvement in even the most successful cities. Although New York and Northern New Jersey ranked fifth overall, the cities' high poverty rate and cost of living burdens made it one of the worst cities in the country for seniors' financial success. Regardless of what city is or is not the best place for seniors, Prince Georges Senior Living centers are an ever-popular choice for many elderly people.


Top 10 cities out of largest metro areas:
1. Provo, Utah
2. Madison, Wis.
3. Omaha
4. Boston
5. New York
6. Des Moines
(tie) Salt Lake City
8. Toledo, Ohio
9. Washington, D.C.
10. Pittsburgh

Top 10 small cities:
1. Sioux Falls, S.D.
2. Iowa City
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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