On July 31, The Milken Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank based out of Santa Monica, California, released Best Cities for Successful Aging, described as a “first-of-its kind, data-driven index, which measures and ranks the performance of 359 U.S. metropolitan areas in promoting and enabling successful aging” according to a press release on the organization’s website.
“This report represents a critical component of the policy and advocacy strategy that needs to be undertaken to ensure that seniors nationwide have access to all of the fundamental services that they require,” said Pinchas Cohen, M.D., dean of the USC Davis School. “It also sets the stage for future efforts to allow personalization of senior services according to individual needs. The Milken Institute should be commended for its commitment to the concept of successful aging.”
Unlike other lists that generally rely on household surveys to rank “best cities to retire,” Best Cities for Successful Aging is an index based on public data and utilizes 78 indicators that determine the overall quality of life for seniors to determine which cities are meeting the needs of older adult populations.
Although warm, sunny weather has long been synonymous with older adult communities, the index shows that health care, employment, living arrangements and financial factors are even more important when creating communities that enable successful aging.
“Seniors want to remain active and engaged and healthy and connected to their communities. Many want to continue to work throughout life,” said Paul Irving, Milken Institute’s senior managing director and chief operating officer, in an article from CNN.com. “They want and deserve great health systems. They want to have a voice.”
Additionally the study separates out two sub-populations, the 65-79 age group and the 80+ age group, noting that the needs of older Americans are not uniform and what may be important to a person 80+ years of age may not be important to a 70-year-old and vice versa. Thus, cities in the index receive three scores: an overall score and then separate scores for the 65-79 and 80+ age categories.
Los Angeles, California, which included nearby Long Beach and Santa Ana communities as part of the overall metro area, ranked 30th overall among the 100 large metro areas. It came in 27th for the 65-79 age group and 15th for the 80+ age group. Readers can visit the ranking calculator to see where their metro is falling short and how improvements in the indicators can improve a metro’s ranking. Currently, LA’s three lowest indicators are transportation at 69.12, health care at 62, and living arrangements at 51.31 points. If LA were able to raise each of these scores to 75 points respectively, its overall ranking would jump from 30th to 6th overall among large metro areas.
“We hope the findings spark national discussion,” said Irving, “and, at the local level, generate virtuous competition among cities to galvanize improvement in the social structures that serve seniors.”
The Milken Institute plans to update the index every two years. Where will your community rank?
Individuals can learn more about the Best Cities for Successful Aging and visit the “Ranking Calculator” at succesfulaging.milkeninstitute.org