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Published: Tuesday, 8/7/2012 - Updated: 1 year ago

Toledo 8th on index of best cities for seniors

BY KRIS TURNER
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

Toledo's abundance of hospitals and affordable housing make it one of the nation's most attractive places to live for senior citizens, according to a study released this month.

The Milken Institute released its first-ever study on Best Cities for Aging Successfully and ranked Toledo eighth among the nation's 100 largest metro areas. Ann Arbor came in at seventh on the list of smaller metro areas.

"This is an index that's the first of its kind, and we looked into all the measures that aid successful aging," said Anusuya Chatterjee, an economist with the institute, which is an independent economic think tank based in Santa Monica, Calif.

The study ranked cities in eight categories: general, health care, wellness, financial, employment, living arrangements, transportation, and community engagement. Those eight categories were broken down into 78 benchmarks, Ms. Chatterjee said.

The benchmarks were evaluated using data from places such as the Centers for Disease Control, the FBI, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The study was funded by Humana and the American Association of Retired Persons, Ms. Chatterjee said.

Toledo "boasts some of the lowest housing and rental prices of the … large metros" and "a high percentage of seniors are physically active," according to the study. The nearby golf courses, parks, and other recreational opportunities also helped Toledo achieve its high ranking.

Jim Jones, president and chief executive officer of Family Service of Northwest Ohio, said the Toledo area is focused on providing seniors with amenities such as food delivery and in-home care to delay going into a nursing home or an assisted-living facility for as long as possible. That is one of the factors that helped bolster Toledo's ranking.

"This community has senior centers, which I'm sure is one of the more positive things," he said.

Family Service provides counseling, home care, outreach, advocacy, and prevention education services.

Preventing premature institutionalization is important to the health and wellness of senior citizens, said Darlene Jackson, director of home-care options for Family Service. There is not a better place to live out the rest of your life than your own home, she said.

"We had some couples who had been married for many, many years that when they advanced in age, they promised one another that one would not put the other into a nursing home," Ms. Jackson said. "It helps them to keep that promise and remain in their home with dignity and respect."

Contact Kris Turner at: kturner@theblade.com or 419-724-6103.



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