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Survey: Aging in Florida is a mediocre proposition

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  • | 6:39 a.m. September 5, 2012
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Sarasota officials and business leaders have played up the area's older demographics as a source of widespread potential economic development.

The most pertinent fact in that quest: The U.S. Census reports that Sarasota County has the oldest population out of 3,850 largest counties nationwide. That's the genesis behind the formation of the Institute for the Ages, a Sarasota-based think tank that studies how to tap into elderly demographics. Charlotte County is the oldest small county in the country, census data shows.

But while the more mature set clearly has a hold on raw numbers, that doesn't necessarily mean the region is the best place for them to live. Indeed, the Milken Institute ranked the Sarasota-Bradenton-Venice region a middling 47th out of 100 in a nationwide list of the Best Cities for Successful Aging. Cape Coral-Fort Myers ranked one spot ahead of Sarasota-Bradenton, officially North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton. The Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater region came in 65th place.

The survey, released earlier this month, looked at eight categories that were broken down into more than 75 sub-categories. The main criteria included health care; transportation/convenience; employment/education; and community engagement.

Sarasota-Bradenton scored high on community engagement, where it was the number two region, one spot behind Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn. Sarasota-Bradenton also did well on transportation and wellness. On the flip side, it scored in the bottom third on health care and employment.

Other factors that stood out on the survey: Cape Coral-Fort Myers was the 99th ranked region for health care. Only Bakersfield, Calif., scored lower. The Tampa region, meanwhile, didn't make the top 25 of any of the eight categories.

The Santa Monica, Calif.-based Milken Institute is a nonprofit economic and policy think tank. Philanthropist and financier Michael Milken, who spent time in prison in the 1990s for an insider trading scandal, co-founded the institute.

Here's a look at the Milken Institute's top 10 cities for successful aging, and where Florida's regions are ranked.

1. Provo-Orem, Utah
2. Madison, Wis.
3. Omaha-Council Bluffs, Neb.-Iowa
4. Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, Mass.-N.H.
5. New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island
6. Des Moines-West Des Moines, Iowa
7. Salt Lake City
8. Toledo, Ohio
9. Washington, D.C.-Arlington-Alexandria
10. Pittsburgh, Pa.
38. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach
40. Jacksonville
46. Cape Coral-Fort Myers
47. Sarasota-Bradenton-Venice
65. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater
77. Orlando-Kissimmee
89. Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville
97. Lakeland-Winter Haven


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