Accommodations for senior populations come in many different forms, but include initiatives like:
Encouraging seniors to take part in community activities (including sports like golf, visiting museums and libraries, taking courses, volunteering for charities or performing civic duties)
Ensuring sidewalks are well lit and kept in good shape
Having infrastructure in place to support senior needs including retirement communities, hospitals, and doctors who specialize in geriatric medicine
Legislating by-laws to ensure buildings have automatic door openers, elevators, stair railings and ramps
Providing public transportation that is easily accessible and affordable for seniors
For seniors who are considering relocating, finding a city that is age-friendly is an important consideration.
Based on data collected by A Place for Mom (which originated from the American Community Survey 2014 Five-year Estimates), the following cities have the largest proportion of seniors (people above the age of 64):
City Total Population Percentage of Seniors
Punta Gorda, FL Metro Area 163, 151 36%
Sebastian-Vero Beach, FL Metro Area 140, 918 29%
Ocala, FL Metro Area 334, 771 27%
Barnstable Town, MA Metro Area 215, 167 26%
Prescott, AZ Metro Area 213, 689 26%
Lake Havasu City-Kingman, AZ Metro Area 202, 482 25%
Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL Metro Area 161, 514 25%
Port St. Lucie, FL Metro Area 433, 646 24%
Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL Metro Area 597, 824 23%
Ocean City, NJ Metro Area 96, 286 23%
It’s interesting to note that many of the cities on this list are in Florida.
Most metro areas in the state have a senior population of 20% or more (in Punta Gorda, Florida, 36% of the population are seniors).
For years, Florida has been a hot spot for seniors because of the favorable weather and large senior communities, so it’s not surprising to see so many of the state’s cities in this top 10 list.
Top 10 Cities with the Fastest Growing Senior Populations in the U.S.
Although Florida continues to reign supreme as a popular senior living destination, cities in the state make the list of the fastest growing senior communities in the United States:
City Total Population Percentage of Seniors Four-Year Change in Percentage of Seniors
Santa Fe, NM Metro Area 146361 17% 18%
Fairbanks, AK Metro Area 99319 7% 16%
Gainesville, GA Metro Area 185318 12% 14%
Bowling Green, KY Metro Area 162322 13% 13%
Flagstaff, AZ Metro Area 135817 10% 13%
Boulder, CO Metro Area 305166 11% 13%
Lafayette, LA Metro Area 475457 12% 13%
Bremerton-Silverdale, WA Metro Area 253614 15% 12%
Anchorage, AK Metro Area 392021 8% 12%
Ann Arbor, MI Metro Area 351454 11% 12%
How Are Cities Keeping Pace with Growing Senior Needs?
On average, the population of seniors in most cities in the U.S. grew by 7% between 2011-2014. However, as we can see above, Santa Fe, New Mexico, saw its population of seniors increase by 18%, well above the average growth experienced by most American cities. How can cities like Santa Fe keep up with the needs of their growing senior population?
The World Health Organization has developed a Global Database of Age-Friendly Practices which provides information about initiatives that are underway to help make communities age-friendly. Searchable by country, city size and initiative type, the database provides information about a number of American cities that are putting seniors first in policy and practice. Senior-focused initiatives are happening in:
West Chester, Pennsylvania
West Chester has created an intergenerational learning and mentoring program that “brings together West Chester University undergraduate students, senior students, and older community residents from diverse backgrounds in a mutual learning and mentoring relationship.” The goal of this program is to develop respect and social inclusion for seniors in the West Chester community.
Sarasota County, Florida
“Age Friendly Sarasota” is an organization within Sarasota County dedicated to providing seniors with accessible housing solutions so that they can age-in-place. In 2015, the Sarasota Board of County Commissioners adopted a Universal Design and Visitability program for residential housing units. “The resolution encourages providers and builders of housing in the County to construct housing and communities which are safe and enable residents to move around easily in their communities and to age in place.”
The Cleveland Care Calls program “uses an automated phone call system to provide both a daily phone call to socially isolated older adults in the City of Cleveland and emergency alerts to a wider group of older adults in the city.” The program’s goal is to provide socially isolated older adults with a daily wellness check and access to emergency services as needed