Special Report

30 Best Cities for Older Americans

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5. Wausau, WI
> Share of pop. 65 and older: 16.9%
> Fitness centers per 100,000 residents 65+: 65
> Physicians per 100,000 residents 65+: 317
> Avg. retirement income: $18,617 (bottom 10%)

With 16.9% of its residents 65 or older, Wausau, Wisconsin, has one of the higher proportions of senior citizens in the country. Seniors who need higher levels of care have a much easier time finding it in the Wausau area than almost anywhere else in the country.

There are over 52 skilled nursing facilities per 100,000 seniors residents in Wausau, well above the national rate of 34 per 100,000. The metro area also has over 121 assisted living facilities per 100,000 seniors, more than triple the nationwide rate of 38 per 100,000.

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4. Grand Island, NE
> Share of pop. 65 and older: 15.6%
> Fitness centers per 100,000 residents 65+: 75
> Physicians per 100,000 residents 65+: 329
> Avg. retirement income: $18,967 (bottom 10%)

It is important for seniors to remain social as they age — it helps keep their minds sharp and staves off social isolation. Grand Island’s seniors have many more opportunities to get out in their community as the area has more than 15 social associations per 10,000 residents — well above the 9 per 10,000 average nationwide.

Some 35.3% of Grand Island seniors have a disability, roughly in line with the nationwide rate. Fortunately for these seniors, who likely need extra assistance, the metro area has a large amount of skilled nursing facilities per capita, at 82 per 100,000 — the second highest concentration of any U.S. metro area.

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3. Iowa City, IA
> Share of pop. 65 and older: 12.4% (bottom 10%)
> Fitness centers per 100,000 residents 65+: 99 (top 10%)
> Physicians per 100,000 residents 65+: 358
> Avg. retirement income: $26,704

Iowa City’s senior population is one of the best educated in the entire country, as 36.5% of those 65 and older hold at least a bachelor’s degree. Nationwide, 25.9% of seniors hold a degree. This high level of education tends to lead to higher incomes, which correlates with better health outcomes.

Iowa City seniors have some of the best access to early preventive care in the nation. There are nearly 159 primary care physicians per 100,000 residents — the third highest concentration in the country. Iowa City also leads the nation in dentists per capita, with over 204 per 100,000 residents. These figures indicate that Iowa City seniors will likely be able to receive important preventive care in a timely manner.

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2. Sioux Falls, SD
> Share of pop. 65 and older: 13.1% (bottom 25%)
> Fitness centers per 100,000 residents 65+: 126 (top 10%)
> Physicians per 100,000 residents 65+: 167 (bottom 10%)
> Avg. retirement income: $23,659

Seniors in the Sioux Falls area of South Dakota tend to feel better than those in almost any other part of America. Just 10% report being in either fair or poor health — well below the national rate of 16% and the second lowest share of any major metro area.

Beyond health, Sioux Falls also ranks among the best places for older Americans because of the amenities and entertainment options in the area. It ranks among the top 10 metro areas in terms of the concentration of golf clubs and fitness centers per capita.

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1. Rochester, MN
> Share of pop. 65 and older: 16.1%
> Fitness centers per 100,000 residents 65+: 57
> Physicians per 100,000 residents 65+: 88 (bottom 10%)
> Avg. retirement income: $26,517

Among the nearly 400 major metro areas in America, Rochester, Minnesota, ranks as the best city for older Americans. This Midwestern city has over 177 primary care physicians per 100,000 senior residents — the highest concentration among cities. Just 11% of seniors report being in fair or poor health, one of the lowest rates in the nation and a full 5 percentage points lower than the national average.

Rochester seniors tend to be relatively financially secure as compared to elderly Americans nationwide. Nationwide, 8.9% of seniors rely on food stamps, but in Rochester less than half do at 4.2%. Similarly, more than half of Rochester seniors, 52.5%, have retirement income, while just 48.6% of all American seniors do.

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