Skip to main content

The Milken Institute recently ranked 381 US cities for “successful aging,” joining the growing conversations about holistic wellbeing.

Topping the charts was the Provo-Orem metropolitan area in UT, followed only three places later by Salt Lake City, UT. Madison, WI, and Durham-Chapel Hill, NC, rounded out the top 4. See the complete Top 10 here.

Like previous ratings in 2012 and 2014, the criteria for successful aging include general livability (e.g., cost of living, crime rate, etc.), healthcare, education, community engagement (e.g., volunteer rates for older adults, number of arts, entertainment, and recreational facilities), and wellness (e.g., obesity, diabetes, smoking rate, etc.), among others. Milken ranked each metro area in three age categories: all adults 65 and older, adults 65-79, and adults over 80 years old. An important element of the Milken rankings is the focus on healthiness across the entire lifespan.

It’s a fascinating project that reinforces how people are really starting to pay attention to the role of not just physical, but also emotional wellbeing. Just a couple of days ago, members of the diaTribe team heard Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy deliver a personal and thoughtful discussion on the importance of emotional wellbeing in Austin, TX, at South by Southwest 2017. (We also hosted two panels of our own at SXSW 2017, check out our coverage here and here!) Dr. Murthy linked stress to accelerated aging and disease progression and called for a greater focus on the country’s emotional health. There has also been a growing international interest in promoting wellness in the workplace, with companies and governments tackling aspects of both physical and emotional wellbeing to create a happier and more productive workforce.

As Dr. Murthy implied when he emphasized the element of design in social media platforms in driving isolation, we must pay attention to design in order to create a culture of wellbeing – whether that’s in our mobile technology, our workplaces, or our cities. We are aware of this in our own workplace! I’m writing just as we wrap up our search for full-time associates at Close Concerns and The diaTribe Foundation, which we narrowed from a pool of 300 eligible college students to just five incredibly amazing candidates. We know San Francisco can be a hard place to live financially, but we’re glad to see San Francisco (and Oakland/Hayward) ranking #10 for successful aging (#5 in wellness, #3 in general livability and transportation/convenience). Arguably, San Francisco’s ranking of #68 in healthcare, #72 in community engagement, and #93 in living arrangements (almost dead last of the 100 large cities!), which highlights areas where we still need work!

We’re hoping that the growing awareness of the importance of holistic wellbeing will continue and that we can play a small role in the ongoing conversations.