Aging successfully certainly beats the alternative. However, where one lives while aging seems to be gaining importance. Enter the Milken Institute, a group that studies how and where to age successfully.
They used 78 indicators in all to rank America’s best cities for successful aging. This information should be vital to those who have aging services businesses in these cities, and to those who are looking to provide services.
Here is their definition of successful aging in America:
- We want to live in places that are safe, affordable, and comfortable. (Towards that end they compiled statistics on cost of living, employment growth, jobless rates, income distribution, crime rates, alcoholism, and weather.)
- We want to be healthy and happy. (Towards that end they looked at a range of factors, including the number of health professionals, hospital beds, long-term hospitals, and facilities with geriatric, Alzheimer’s, dialysis, hospice, and rehabilitation services. They also examined hospital quality and affiliation with medical schools. To determine the general wellness of a community, they studied the rates of obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, smoking, and mental illness and looked at the availability of recreation, wellness programs, and other healthy pursuits.)
- We want to be financially secure and part of an economy that enables opportunity and entrepreneurship. (Towards that end they examined each area’s tax burden, small-business growth, poverty levels, and employment rates for those 65-plus, and the number of reverse mortgages.)
- We want living arrangements that suit our needs. (Towards that end they compiled statistics on the costs of home ownership and rental housing, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and home health-care providers, and checked for programs that help pay for senior housing, among other data.)
- We want mobility and access to convenient transportation systems that get us where we want and need to go. (Towards that end they studied commute times, fares, the use of and investment in transit for the public and for seniors specifically, and the number of grocery stores and other key retailers.)
- We want to be respected for our wisdom and experience; to be physically, intellectually, and culturally enriched; and to be connected to our families, friends, and communities. (Towards that end they compiled statistics on volunteerism, employment opportunities, and factors relating to encore careers, and we reviewed indicators including access to fitness and recreational facilities, training and education, senior enrichment programs, museums, cultural and religious institutions, libraries, and YMCAs, as well as the proportion of the population 65 and older.)
The full study can be found online.You will hear more about this in the upcoming months, I feel certain.
The Milken Institute’s objectives for the Best Cities for Successful Aging Index are “straightforward”, they report. “We want to generate virtuous competition among cities and galvanize improvement in the social structures that serve aging Americans. We want to encourage and promote best practices and innovation. We want to catalyze solutions-focused dialogue among thought leaders, decision-makers, and stakeholders. In short, we want to shape the future and spread successful aging across America.