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December 2014

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The Milken Institute Ranks Best Small and Large Cities

The Milken Institute has created a first-of-its-kind, data-driven index, Best Cities for Successful Aging, which measures and ranks the performance of 359 U.S. metropolitan areas in promoting and enabling successful aging.

The Top 10 large and small metropolitan areas are:

Ranking: 100 largest metros
1 Provo, Utah
2 Madison, Wis.
3 Omaha, Neb.
4 Boston, Mass.
5 New York, N.Y.
6 Des Moines, Iowa (tie)
6 Salt Lake City, Utah (tie)
8 Toledo, Ohio
9 Washington, D.C.
10 Pittsburgh, Pa.

Ranking: 259 smaller metros
1 Sioux Falls, S.D.
2 Iowa City, Iowa
3 Bismarck, N.D.
4 Columbia, Mo.
5 Rochester, Minn.
6 Gainesville, Fla.
7 Ann Arbor, Mich.
8 Missoula, Mont.
9 Durham, N.C.
10 Rapid City, S.D.

The new index is an empirical analysis that examines 78 factors that most affect seniors’ quality of life. These include not only health care, crime rates and weather but also economic and job conditions, housing, transportation, and social engagement factors that help create a safe, affordable and connected community for seniors. With surveys showing that the vast majority of seniors want to age in place, the Institute included measurements that reflect their needs— and how well cities meet them. The index also recognizes the new economic and social reality that, especially for the 65-79 age group, many seniors want to continue paid employment.

Provo, Utah, the top city among the largest metros, scored high in a wealth of factors: its active, healthy lifestyle (the fewest fast-food outlets per capita); a No. 1 ranking in growth of small businesses; seven medical centers in the area, three of them magnet hospitals; and one of the highest numbers of volunteers per capita. The top-ranking smaller city, Sioux Falls, S.D., has hospitals that specialize in geriatric services, and its booming economy provides a strong financial base, with the highest employment rate among seniors among the 259 small cities.

“Cities need to be thinking about how best to make quality of life improvements for our rapidly-growing senior populations— and such improvements benefit all age groups,” says the Honorable Henry Cisneros, a member of the index’s advisory committee, and the former Secretary U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as the former mayor of San Antonio, Tex. “What the Milken Institute’s index does for the first time is measure communities on the dimensions that matter most for seniors. It is a real breakthrough that will be vitally helpful for leaders in making policies, creating programs, and reshaping communities.”

The Index includes two sets of overall rankings: one for the 100 most populous metropolitan areas and another for the next 259 medium and smaller cities. In addition to the overall rankings, the index breaks down results for the 65-79 age group and for those 80 and older, since the needs of the two segments vary. For instance, Anchorage, Alaska ranks 8th for the ages 65-79, partly due to abundant employment opportunities. But for the 80+ range, Anchorage falls to 67th because general indicators such as weather and cost of living assume greater importance.

One common attribute of many of the top-performing cities: the presence of a university. “These communities not only offer intellectual stimulation for seniors,” explains Milken Institute Economist Anusuya Chatterjee, co-author of the report with Ross DeVol, chief research officer. “Many also have top-notch university-affiliated hospitals that provide cutting-edge health care.”

“There is no more important policy and economic challenge confronting America than our aging population,” says Paul Irving, senior managing director and chief operating officer of the Milken Institute and leader of the Institute’s Aging Populations Initiative. “There is also considerable opportunity. Innovation and bold approaches are driving change— and much of that is happening in America’s cities.”

Irving said the goal of the index is to encourage and promote best practices in how U.S. communities serve aging Americans. “We hope the findings spark national discussion and, at the local level, generate virtuous competition among cities to galvanize improvement in the social structures that serve seniors,” he said.

“Best Cities for Successful Aging” is available at http://successfulaging.milkeninstitute.org//2014/best-cities-for-successful-aging-report-2014.pdf    —  where you can also find an interactive database for all 359 metros and more information.

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Planning a Stress Free Retirement

Most seniors when they retire I don’t want to worry about anything. They want to spend their hard-earned free time doing whatever they want whenever they want for as long as they can. Retirement is the time to leave stress behind and learn to savor the moments.

The problem is an unpredictable future that can create new kinds of stress. It is difficult to know how our second act is going to play out in spite of our best efforts to plan and prepare for it. Here’s what it takes to feel secure in your retired life.

  • Accumulate a nest egg sufficient to realize your retirement vision. It you have not saved enough for your next stress-free trip, you will find yourself distracted by money concerns. Saving enough to fund a quality retirement lifestyle depends on the type of lifestyle you want to lead. If you plan to spend your retirement years enjoying all the luxuries you can, your required savings will be significantly greater than if you plan to live a more frugal life. To feel financially secure in retirement you need to understand what lifestyle you hope to live, and figure out what it will cost. Then compare that cost to your savings and investments to see if your expectations are realistic. If you start planning a reasonable period of time ahead, you can make adjustments to your savings strategy to better fund the lifestyle you desire.
  • Develop multiple and varied interests. With 20 or more years ahead and plenty of time to do as you please, having a wide variety of hobbies, interests and passions will help to fill your days. If you are someone who gets easily bored it is even more important to expand your options. Variety and new experiences help keep retirement fresh and exciting. Not only will the time pass faster, but you will enjoy a feeling of accomplishment looking back on the day’s events.
  • Take steps to facilitate retiring in place. Most of us would prefer to stay in our current home throughout retirement. We know where everything is from the stores and restaurants to public transportation and hospitals. The neighborhood is full of familiar faces and good memories. With that desire in mind there are things we can do to improve our odds of aging in place. Architectural upgrades that take into consideration the challenges of aging can make your current dwelling more senior friendly for a longer period of time. A good support network of family and friends provides peace of mind in case of emergencies. If you cannot care for yourself there are in-home services that can allow you to stay in place longer. And should it get to a point where you cannot safely live at home, it helps to know the options for retirement communities in your area. Investigating the choices ahead of time gives you a better overview of what is available and helps you consider where you might ultimately have to live.
  • Be happy with who you are (or make changes). The person you are in retirement will impact your feeling of well-being and the lives of those around you. Getting old gives us plenty to be bitter about, from aching backs to challenged memories. It is easy to become angry and grumpy. Rather than take out that frustration on those who love us, we can try to come to grips with the realities of aging. There will be plenty of difficulties, and you may need to learn to accept help. I hope to have the strength to see the upside where it exists. I don’t want to become the old guy perpetually complaining about medical issues to anyone who will listen. I would like my grandkids to look forward to spending time with me. I will try to maintain a sense of humor and occasionally make those in my life laugh out loud. I hope others will be happier after hanging around me.

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Baby Boomers and Their Homes: On Their Own Terms

A recent survey by the Demand Institute found that the generation born following World War II has had a major impact on the U.S. economy and housing market over the past several decades, and the next decade will be no different as Baby Boomers enter their golden years.  True, many Boomers have had to adapt their retirement and housing plans to new financial realities after the financial crisis and housing crash, but still account for $1 out of every $4 spent on home purchases and rent in the next five years.

But don’t expect this generation to stick to the script when it comes to retirement and housing decisions.  Demand Institute research reveals that not all Boomers are looking to downsize to a condo in Florida and spend their days golfing.  Most plan to age in place, but many will move into larger homes and take out new mortgages to do so.

The Demand Institute surveyed more than 4,000 Baby Boomer households about their current living situation, moving intentions, housing preferences as a part of broader initiative to understand where future home and community demand is headed.

For more information on the findings of the study click here.

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NEW BOOK: “Revolutionary Retirement — What’s Next for You”

Revolutionary Retirement is a book for Baby Boomers by Baby Boomers about rebooting and reinventing into a great new phase of life. It’s a road map for designing what’s next for those looking to retire, including, for many, continuing to work, or redefining what work means for them. The book recognizes that the new brand of “retirees” want relevance, fulfillment, identity, and self-esteem in their next phase. It recognizes too that they may fear financial inadequacy, and offers unique solutions.

The book is about much more than finances, though.  It’s about life. Full of practical information, helpful stories, exercises in every chapter, new ideas, and a robust appendix, the book covers these topics and more: • How to plan for the revolutionary retirement you want • Creative and fulfilling uses of your time • How to keep making money and other ways to make your money last • Ways to improve your health • Life at home when you are now both there • How to solve your IT needs • Sandwich Generation issues — caring for your parents and grown children • Building and leaving your legacy • Simplifying your life and living a life of passion

The co-authors are four baby boomer professional women who have walked the walk and reinvented themselves.  They are Catherine Allen, Nancy Bearg, Rita Foley and Jaye Smith.  Revolutionary Retirement is a road map for designing what’s next for those looking to retire, including, for many, continuing to work, or redefining what work means for them.

The authors provide ideas for creative and fulfilling use of time. It provides ways on how to keep making money, making it last, ways to improve and keep your health as well as building and leaving a legacy.  Over 300 individuals and 25 organizations were interviewed to create a book useful for individuals, organizations and corporations.

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