In an effort to improve the lives of aging Americans, the Milken Institute has assembled a listing of the Best Cities in America for successful aging. Milken Institute created a Best Cities for Successful AgingTM index to measure, compare and rank the performance of over 350 U.S. metropolitan areas in their promotion of successful aging practices.
Unlike many rankings that are based on the subjective opinions expressed in surveys, the Milken Institute’s is based on a weighted, eight subcomponent methodology. The eight subcomponents — health care, wellness, living arrangements, transportation/convenience, financial well-being, employment/education, and community engagement – are based on nearly 80 separate indicators. The index methodology is based on publicly available data, with each metro benchmarked against the top-performing location for every indicator in each subcomponent. The weighting used for the overall composite index placed health care and wellness at the top of the priority list, followed by financial security, safety, and security. This prioritization reflected the study’s careful approach; it was based on information received from AARP and Sunlife Financial, a literature review and the recommendations of the study’s Advisory Committee, a 15-member panel of public, private sector and academic experts.
The ranking may be particularly helpful for those who have a need to understand market areas by age. Milken weighted the indicators differently to create subindexes to examine those aged 65 – 79 and those aged 80 and up. For those aged 80 and up, more weight was given to factors such as health care and weather; for those aged 65 – 79 more weight was given to active lifestyles and engagement opportunities. Per the authors, “We recognize that a 65-year-old’s needs likely differ from an 80-year-olds.” As a result, it is rare that a city’s ranking is the same for each age group.
The Provo-Orem, UT metropolitan area is ranked #1 on the Large Metropolitan listing, with Sioux Falls, SD ranked #1 on the Small Metropolitan listing. As an example of how the age subindexes affect the rankings, while the Boston Metropolitan area is ranked #4 overall, it is ranked #6 for ages 65-79 and #1 for ages 80 plus.
Though not evaluated with the rigor of the listing and index, the report includes a section titled Programs with Purpose, described as a listing of programs that “could provide the inspiration for your own community’s attempts to improve quality of life for older residents.”