Sorry, Los Angeles — you lost to Provo-Orem, Utah (No. 1), Des Moines, Iowa (No. 6) and Toledo, Ohio (No. 8). In the first “Best Cities for Successful Aging” report, the City of Angels finished a less-than-heavenly No. 30.
Compiled by the Milken Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank, the report made waves around the country at every professional level, sending many of the nation’s mayors and civic committees scrambling to figure out ways to make their cities more senior-friendly.
Paul Irving, senior managing director and chief operating officer of the Milken Institute, discussed the study’s impetus, goals and impact with members of the USC Davis School of Gerontology in a presentation titled “The Aging Opportunity: Rethinking the Demographic Shift.”
“Our theory of the world is you have to do really good data-driven work and you have to find a way to connect it to public policy and leadership,” he said. “For many of the people sitting in this audience, this will affect our lives and the lives of your peers around the world.”
After describing the enormous aging-related challenges facing the United States and the world, including projected explosions in the number of people affected by Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and depression, Irving explained that part of the problem is that aging is seen as a negative, taboo topic that receives less funding, awareness and research than it deserves.
“People don’t like to talk about aging. Maybe it’s our own fear of hair loss or wrinkles or death, but it needs to be done. I think each one of you can have a hand in doing that,” he said. “I would challenge you to think about how to frame your work and your discussions around issues related to aging.”
Using statistics that include costs of living, employment growth and rate, crime, weather and the number of health professionals in the ranking system, Irving explained that the institute’s goal in creating its report was to provide a data-driven resource that could help spark discussions and inspire positive changes.
Fielding questions from audience members about the methodology, scope and ramifications of the study, Irving closed by thanking USC Davis, its students and faculty for helping reimagine and redefine what it means to age, to retire and to embark on a second career — a feeling that seemed mutual.
“Paul stands for everything we believe in at the USC Davis School,” Dean Pinchas Cohen said. “This index is a total game changer.”