10 Best Cities for Senior Health
As we age, having access to proper health care is one of the biggest components of maintaining a healthy life — especially for cancer patients. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than two-thirds of new cancers are diagnosed among those ages 60 years and older. There were more than 53 million Americans over the age of 65 in 2019, making up about 16% of the total population. By 2060, this number is projected to increase to 23% of the total population.
For mesothelioma patients, a healthy lifestyle is an important component of improving one’s life span and quality of life. A key factor in health is geographic location. So, to determine the best cities for senior health, we analyzed data from 100 metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas with high populations of seniors, then looked at the following metrics for each city. We based our findings around these data points because they are strong indicators of a healthy senior population:
- Ratio of seniors to the total population
- Average retirement income
- Average life expectancy
- Percentage of seniors in poverty
- Percentage of seniors enrolled in Medicare
- Number of senior living centers per capita
- Number of cancer doctors per capita
Health insurance, income levels and access to recreational and health centers all contribute to a happy and healthy life for seniors. Medicare is a government-funded health insurance program that is available to Americans once they turn 65, and satisfaction regarding medical care is important for a senior’s health. In a recent study from eHealth, 75% of Americans covered through Medicare reported being satisfied or very satisfied with their coverage.
In addition to health insurance, it’s important to be in close proximity to doctors, care centers and hospitals to ensure you receive adequate care, which is why we chose to analyze the number of senior centers and cancer doctors per capita in each city. Senior and independent living facilities give this population an all-in-one place to access care and recreational and social activities that promote a healthy lifestyle.
Here’s a look at the best cities for senior health:
1. Truckee, CA
Truckee, California, ranks No. 1 for senior health. It is home to 26,254 seniors who make up about 27% of the city’s total population. In recent years, many retirees have been flocking to the small mountain town of Truckee for its quiet and relaxed way of living. Truckee has one of the lowest poverty rates and one of the highest average retirement incomes.
Notable Health Center: It’s home to the Gene Upshaw Memorial Tahoe Forest Cancer Center, which provides high-quality cancer treatment and care to its patients. The Gene Upshaw Cancer Center also provides some of the best opportunities for clinical trials through its affiliation with the UC Davis Cancer Care Network.
2. Sebastian-Vero Beach, FL
Home to 49,685 seniors — nearly 32% of the total population — the metro areas of Sebastian and Vero Beach, Florida, take the No. 2 spot for senior health. It’s no secret that Florida is home to some of the top-ranked places to live for seniors.
Aside from the many senior living facilities in the area, living near miles of beaches could be a prime reason this area is good for senior health. A recent study found that those who live near coastal areas are linked to having better mental health, especially those in lower-income households.
Notable Health Center: Aside from the luxury of being located on the beach, Sebastian-Vero Beach is home to Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital. It has above-average advanced technologies for cancer care, such as image-guided radiation therapy.
3. Traverse City, MI
Traverse City, Michigan, is home to 32,213 seniors who make up about 22% of the city’s total population. With its low poverty rates and high access to senior centers and cancer doctors per capita, it takes the No. 3 spot for senior health.
Notable Health Center: Munson Medical Center, one of the leading hospitals in Michigan, is recognized as having an above-average patient experience when it comes to cancer care, with lung cancer surgery being one of its highest-performing specialties, according to U.S. News and World Report.
4. Ocean City, NJ
Another beach city taking a ranking spot, Ocean City, New Jersey, currently has about 24,059 senior residents who make up 26% of its total population. It’s one of the cities with the lowest percentage of seniors in poverty and has a high percentage of senior residents enrolled in Medicare.
Notable Health Center: Ocean City is home to AtlantiCare Cancer Care Institute, a Fox Chase Cancer Center partner. This cancer center offers a variety of cancer care to patients in the New Jersey area, including access to clinical trials, new treatments and research, plus overall high-quality care for its patients.
5. Naples, FL
Naples, Florida, ranks No. 5 for senior health and is home to 117,197 seniors. Naples has the highest average retirement income and is one of the cities with the highest average life expectancy of 82 years of age. Aside from being another beach city, Naples is one of the top-rated cities in the nation for air quality, according to the American Lung Association — which is an important factor for seniors with underlying lung health conditions.
Notable Health Center: Naples Community Hospital is rated high in seven adult procedures and conditions, including colon cancer surgery and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
6. The Villages, FL
The Villages, Florida, has the highest population of seniors in the nation, with 70,918 seniors making up about 57% of the total city population. This city ranked No. 3 for the highest average retirement income and has the largest amount of the population – over 50% – enrolled in Medicare. Because more than half of The Villages’ population is seniors, proximity to senior living facilities is more accessible than in most places, with about 62 senior living facilities per capita.
Notable Health Center: The Villages Regional Hospital is one of the closest medical centers for residents and has been recognized as a high-performing hospital in COPD from U.S. News and World Report. It received a Three-Year Accreditation with Commendation award from the Commission on Cancer.
7. St. George, UT
St. George, Utah, ranks No. 7 in senior health and is home to 34,636 seniors who make up about 21% of the city’s total population. St. George is one of the cities with the highest average life expectancy and has a relatively low poverty rate — only 6% of the city’s senior population.
Notable Health Center: Intermountain St. George Regional Hospital is the main hospital for St. George residents, which has above-average ratings for patient experience for geriatric and cancer care.
8. Barnstable, MA
The metropolitan area of Barnstable, Massachusetts, is home to 63,581 seniors. It has one of the highest average retirement incomes, a low poverty rate of 4% and an average life expectancy of 80 years of age.
Notable Health Center: Cape Cod Hospital, located in Hyannis, Massachusetts, is just a short 15-minute drive from Barnstable. It is ranked No. 11 in Massachusetts hospitals and has above-average ratings for patient experience for cancer and geriatric care, according to U.S. News and World Report.
9. Pinehurst, NC
Ranking No. 9 is Pinehurst, North Carolina, home to 23,178 seniors — about 24% of the city’s population. Pinehurst has one of the highest rankings for the number of cancer doctors per capita and has a higher average life expectancy of 81 years of age.
Notable Health Center: FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital in Pinehurst is rated high-performing in eight adult procedures and conditions — including COPD and lung and colon cancer surgery. The FirstHealth Cancer Center has access to state-of-the-art cancer treatments and clinical trials to give patients a comfortable and rewarding care experience.
10. Wisconsin Rapids, WI
The Wisconsin Rapids-Marshfield micro statistical area is home to 14,703 seniors who make up 20% of the city’s total population. It ranked No. 2 for the highest number of cancer doctors per capita and has one of the lowest senior poverty rates. It has an average life expectancy of 80 years of age.
Notable Health Center: Located in Wisconsin Rapids is Aspirus Riverview Hospital, rated No. 6 in the hospitals recognized in Wisconsin by U.S. News and World Report. It’s rated high-performing in seven adult procedures and conditions, including COPD.
Quality of life is an important part of healthy aging for seniors, especially those affected by chronic diseases such as cancer. Access to quality care, proximity to living facilities and recreational centers all contribute to healthier living — both physically and emotionally.
In order to determine the best cities for senior health, we compared data from 100 of the most senior-populated cities in the U.S. We rated each city on a weighted scale based on the following factors:
- The ratio of seniors to the total population — 10 points
- Average retirement income — 10 points
- Percentage of seniors in poverty — 10 points
- City’s average life expectancy — 15 points
- Percentage of seniors enrolled in Medicare — 15 points
- Number of senior facilities per capita — 20 points
- Number of cancer doctors per capita — 20 points
We pulled data from the U.S Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey to determine the statistical areas with the highest population of seniors, average retirement income, poverty rates and percentage of the population enrolled in Medicare. We then looked at the closest senior living and recreation facilities within a 20-mile radius of each city. We used data from U.S. News and World Report to discover the number of cancer doctors in close proximity to each city.