The Top 20 Cities for ‘Successful Aging’

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These metropolitan areas -- large and small -- offer optimal quality of life for older residents.

Looking for a great quality of life in retirement in a large metro area? Head to the Provo area of Utah, according to a recently released report from the Milken Institute.

The city in the Beehive State topped the list of large metros in the “Best Cities for Successful Aging.” The nonprofit think tank describes its report as “designed to highlight the nation’s most livable metropolitan areas — those that enable an optimal quality of life for their aging citizens.”

Iowa City, Iowa, was the top finisher among smaller metro areas.

The institute also notes that more than 80 percent of Americans age 65 and older live in metropolitan areas, and nearly 90 percent of older adults in the U.S. want to age in their homes and communities.

Paul Irving, chairman of the Milken Institute’s Center for the Future of Aging, says:

“Cities are on the front lines of the largest demographic shift in history. Lifespans are extending into eight, nine, and ten decades, and older adults increasingly are seeking lifelong engagement and purpose. They expect their cities and communities to support their changing needs.”

The report evaluates metropolitan areas based on how they foster overall quality of life for older Americans. That includes:

  • General livability
  • Health care
  • Wellness
  • Financial security
  • Living arrangements
  • Employment
  • Education
  • Transportation and convenience
  • Community engagement

A total of 100 large metropolitan areas were evaluated for the report. The 10 that ranked highest are:

  1. Provo-Orem, Utah
  2. Madison, Wisconsin
  3. Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  4. Salt Lake City, Utah
  5. Des Moines-West Des Moines, Iowa
  6. Austin-Round Rock, Texas
  7. Omaha-Council Bluffs, Nebraska-Iowa
  8. Jackson, Mississippi
  9. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Massachusetts-New Hampshire
  10. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California

Many of the top large metropolitan areas include college towns, and all of them have a high percentage of older residents with degrees, according to the Milken Institute. The report notes:

“We know that education fosters mental stimulation, which in turn can promote healthy, productive aging. This ‘Best Cities’ report also underscores the positive impact that the presence of colleges has on quality-of-life factors that affect older adults, such as economic strength, infrastructure, walkability, and recreation.”

A total of 281 small metropolitan areas also were evaluated. The 10 that ranked highest are:

  1. Iowa City, Iowa
  2. Manhattan, Kansas
  3. Ames, Iowa
  4. Columbia, Missouri
  5. Sioux Falls, South Dakota
  6. Ann Arbor, Michigan
  7. Ithaca, New York
  8. Lawrence, Kansas
  9. Logan, Utah-Idaho
  10. Fairbanks, Alaska

For more tips for “successful aging,” check out:

What do you make of the top cities in this report? Share your thoughts below or on Facebook.

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