Fargo ranked 18th on ‘Best Cities for Successful Aging’ reportWinters here are cold, but Fargo’s still a good place to grow old, according to rankings released Tuesday by the Milken Institute. Fargo is 18th on the inaugural “Best Cities for Successful Aging” report, setting itself apart as a leader in senior-friendly living among 259 other small metropolitan areas across the U.S.
By: By Helmut Schmidt , Forum Communications, The Jamestown Sun
FARGO — Winters here are cold, but Fargo’s still a good place to grow old, according to rankings released Tuesday by the Milken Institute.
Fargo is 18th on the inaugural “Best Cities for Successful Aging” report, setting itself apart as a leader in senior-friendly living among 259 other small metropolitan areas across the U.S.
Other cities in the region also fared well, including Sioux Falls, S.D., which tops the small-metro list, and Bismarck, which is No. 3.
Rochester, Minn., comes in fifth, with Rapid City, S.D., pulling in at No. 10.
The rankings are meant to encourage competition among cities to improve services for aging Americans, the authors said. The importance of that is highlighted by a recent AARP survey showing that up to 90 percent of older Americans wish to age in place.
Fargo powered into the Top 20 due to:
* A vibrant economy. Low unemployment and high small-business growth make it a good place to work or start a second career. It was rated 22nd in the financial area.
* Ease of getting around.
* Short commute times.
* Easy access to grocery stores.
* Many financial institutions and a strong financial base.
* Many museums, houses of worship and other cultural venues.
* Many senior volunteers.
* High state funding for senior services.
* Tenth overall in community engagement.
Despite Fargo being a regional medical hub, the Milken report said the metro area needs:
* More long-term hospitals.
* More caregivers.
* More Alzheimer’s care units.
Overall, Fargo was rated 20th among small metros as the place to live for those 65 to 79 years old, and 27th for people 80 and older.
No. 3 Bismarck was also praised for a booming economy and impressive small-business growth.
Bismarck was ranked first in the hospital care. Assisted-living and inpatient care costs are low, the report said.
Bismarck’s senior volunteerism rate was highest among the small metros and investment in senior transportation was called significant.
But there were worries, too, about the price of housing and income inequality, with the number of seniors living below the poverty line a concern, the report said.
Overall, Bismarck was rated third both for seniors ages 56 to 79 and for those 80 and older.
Janis Cheney, state director for AARP North Dakota, said cities need to think about the changes needed to improve seniors’ quality of life.
“It isn’t a one-shot deal, you get a multiple benefit from doing it,” Cheney said, as improvements in such areas as health care and transportation also help other age groups.
The rankings recognize “that there are some new realities facing us,” Cheney said.
The report also rated 100 of the biggest metro areas in the country.
Most senior-friendly was Provo-Orem, Utah, followed by: Madison, Wis.; Omaha, Neb., and Council Bluffs, Iowa; Boston, Cambridge, Quincy, Mass., and N.H., area; and the New York, northern New Jersey, and Long Island area.
Helmut Schmidt is a reporter at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.