If living a long, healthy life is your aim, you may want to perk your ears to the latest study from the Milken Institute, which claims to have found the nation’s best cities for successful aging.
The basis of the study was founded on the idea that the older population doesn’t want to sit around and do nothing as they age; they want to be active, live healthy, fulfilling lives, and be engaged in the community they settle in.
To conduct the study, researchers judged how capable a city was at providing successful aging based on 78 indicators ranging from health care to financial well-being.
The indicators were split into two categories: general and specific. General indicators were those that influence decisions about where to live regardless of age, such as cost of living, crime and safety, overall economic prosperity and weather. Specific indicators instead focused on the needs of older Americans, being the availability of specialized housing, financial factors, transportation systems, continued education programs and community engagement.
In addition, researchers placed ‘weights’ on various factors based on their level of importance as expressed by Americans aged 50 and older based on a recent AARP survey. Top factors included health care, unemployment and financial stability.
Based on these indicators, researchers at the Milken Institute determined that for large metro areas, Provo-Orem, Utah, took overall top prize, closely followed by Madison, Wisconsin, and Omaha, Nebraska. As for large metro areas that didn’t fare so well, Stockton and Bakersfield, California, took 99th and 100th place.
For small metro areas, Sioux Falls, Idaho, took first place overall, ranking best for those aged 65-79, and second for those 80 and above. And close behind were Iowa City, Iowa, in second overall, and Bismark, North Dakota, in third. Yuma, Arizona, and Morristown, Tennessee, landed at the bottom of the small metro area pack.
If you don’t trust these results for yourself, however, there’s good news. Milkin placed an interactive tool on their site that allows readers to weigh which indicators are most important to them, and will then yield a new set of rankings based on their individual preferences.
Based on the findings, Milkin’s managing director and CEO Paul Irving believes this paints a new picture for what aging well means in today’s society. “We all know that America is growing older. As we looked at what was going on,” he said, “some of the most innovative thinking and most helpful progress was going on at the metro, at the city level.” In a press release issued by Milkin, Irving went on to say that, “We hope the findings spark national discussion and, at the local level, generate virtuous competition among cities to galvanize improvement in the social structures that serve seniors.”