Special Report

30 Best Cities for Older Americans

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10. Dubuque, IA
> Share of pop. 65 and older: 17.1%
> Fitness centers per 100,000 residents 65+: 84 (top 25%)
> Physicians per 100,000 residents 65+: 205 (bottom 10%)
> Avg. retirement income: $19,422 (bottom 10%)

As one of the top 10 best places for older Americans, Dubuque has no shortage of entertainment and recreational options for seniors. This Iowa city ranks among the top five in terms of hotels and zoos and botanical gardens per capita. It also has more bowling centers per 100,000 seniors than any other place in America.

Dubuque seniors report some of the best health in the country, as just 11.8% say they are in either fair or poor health — one of the lowest shares in the country. They also tend to have good financial health, as just 0.6% of 65 and older Dubuque residents get cash public assistance, about one-third of the U.S. rate.

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9. Sheboygan, WI
> Share of pop. 65 and older: 17.6%
> Fitness centers per 100,000 residents 65+: 49
> Physicians per 100,000 residents 65+: 217 (bottom 10%)
> Avg. retirement income: $18,628 (bottom 10%)

Some elderly people may in time lose the ability to perform important tasks and duties, which may necessitate moving into an assisted living facility. In Sheboygan, Wisconsin, there are nearly 79 such facilities per 100,000 people 65 and over, more than double the U.S. rate.

Sheboygan has one of the lowest percentages of seniors with a disability of any major metro area, at 28.4%. Nationwide, 35.5% of seniors are disabled. More than 94% of area senior households receive social security, well above the national rate of 90%.

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8. Sioux City, IA-NE-SD
> Share of pop. 65 and older: 16.2%
> Fitness centers per 100,000 residents 65+: 58
> Physicians per 100,000 residents 65+: 306
> Avg. retirement income: $19,459 (bottom 25%)

While many seniors may move into assisted living facilities when they need help with day-to-day tasks, others need additional care and move to places known as skilled nursing facilities. In these facilities, registered and specialized care providers help seniors rehabilitate from a sickness or physical ailments, as well as provide treatment to those with chronic conditions that require round-the-clock or frequent care.

Sioux City is one of the best cities for older Americans in part because it has more than 76 skilled nursing facilities per 100,000 seniors — well over double the nationwide average. Sioux City also has some of the highest concentrations of leisure activity places, like museums, golf clubs, and more.

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7. Ann Arbor, MI
> Share of pop. 65 and older: 13.4% (bottom 25%)
> Fitness centers per 100,000 residents 65+: 104 (top 10%)
> Physicians per 100,000 residents 65+: 346
> Avg. retirement income: $29,316 (top 25%)

Unlike many of the cities that rank as the best cities for older Americans, Ann Arbor has a relatively low proportion of seniors. Just 13.4% of Ann Arbor residents are 65 or older, as compared to 15.6% of Americans overall. This is likely due to the fact that Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan and its over 44,000 students.

Ann Arbor has one of the most highly educated senior populations in the country. More than 48% of residents 65 and over hold at least a bachelor’s degree, as compared to 25.9% of American seniors overall. This education was likely translated into higher incomes when they were still working, allowing them to set aside more money for retirement. Area seniors have one of the highest retirement incomes nationwide, with over $29,000 a year.

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6. La Crosse-Onalaska, WI-MN
> Share of pop. 65 and older: 16.4%
> Fitness centers per 100,000 residents 65+: 111 (top 10%)
> Physicians per 100,000 residents 65+: 53 (bottom 10%)
> Avg. retirement income: $20,235 (bottom 25%)

The La Crosse area, on the Mississippi River across from Minnesota, has a large range of health care options for senior residents. It has the eighth highest concentration of primary care physicians, with more than 134 per 100,000 seniors. It also has a high concentration of dentists per capita, at 86.9 per 100,000.

LaCrosse area seniors may have an easier time staying healthy and in shape as the area has nearly 111 fitness and recreational sports centers per 100,000 residents 65 and over, one of the highest concentrations in the country.

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