Top 10 best U.S. cities to grow old in

Where are the best U.S. cities for seniors?
Written by Tyler Falk, Contributor

As the baby boomer generation increasingly ages to 65 years and older, the number of seniors in America is around one in eight, and that number is climbing. By 2030, 1 in 5 Americans are expected to be 65 or older.

At the same time, the U.S. will continue to urbanize but will have to do so in a way that accommodates an aging population. Some cities are already doing that better than others.

The Milken Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, released a new index to determine the cities that are doing the best job at creating environments for what the report calls "successful aging." Using survey results from recent studies by AARP and SunLife Financial, they were able to determine that healthcare was the top issue for seniors. Other factors that influenced the rankings were wellness, financial security, safety, living arraignments, education and employment opportunities, transportation and convenience, and community engagement. In total, 78 factors that most affect seniors' quality of life were measured.

The study looked at 359 U.S. metropolitan areas. Of the largest 100 cities in the U.S., here are the top 10 cities for "successful aging":

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

And of the smaller 259 U.S. metros, here are the top 10:

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.

Provo scored well in health and wellness, small business growth, along with the number of hospitals and volunteers. And for Sioux Falls, the number of hospitals with specialties in geriatric services helped it reach the top spot, as did a strong financial base and low unemployment numbers.

What's one common, easy to identify, indicator you might look at to know if a city is a good fit for seniors? The presence of a university. At least, it was a common part of the top ranked cities. Anusuya Chatterjee, the report's co-author explains, in a statement, why a university -- which is general thought of as a haven for young people -- is a great asset to older populations: "These communities not only offer intellectual stimulation for seniors, many also have top-notch university-affiliated hospitals that provide cutting-edge health care."

Photo: Flickr/Ed Yourdon

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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