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Most urban seniors want to live out golden years in cities, survey finds

Mira Samson, 86, center left, and John Puls, 86, center right, make their way through a tunnel of other senior citizens after being crowned Prom Queen and King at the Fourth Annual Senior Prom on April 28. A study from a Toledo-based real estate company found that seven out of 10 senior citizens want to stay in their cities for their golden years.

The Blade/Katie Rausch


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Residents of 10 large North American cities say they would prefer to continuing living in their cities at age 80 or older but most also believe that big cities need more options for senior health care.

That is among the findings of Aging in Cities, a new survey funded by Welltower Inc., a Toledo-based real-estate investment trust specializing in health-care properties like senior housing and post-acute communities.

“The results of the 2017 Aging in Cities survey challenge preconceived ideas about aging and show that most contemporary city dwellers want to age in their communities,” Thomas DeRosa, Welltower’s chief executive officer, said in a statement. “With the rapid growth of the aging of the population, these preference are going to shape urban living for years to come.”

The survey sought out a total of 3,000 city-dwelling adults of all ages — 300 respondents each in Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Toronto, and Washington.

Among key findings: seven of 10 want to reside in their city past age 80, preferring to keep the urban experience in order to enjoy gatherings with friends, scenic areas, outdoor recreation, shopping, cultural events, farmers’ markets, and the like. A total of 84 percent prefer a diverse population with a mix of age groups and 81 percent are open to being in urban senior-living communities.

Access to high-quality health care is city dwellers’ top priority when deciding where to live at age 80 and up, with Baby Boomers ranking health care, public transportation, and nearness to family as their top three priorities.

Respondents said more city-based options for senior housing, memory care, and general health care are needed. Mental health was a key concern — two-thirds said they worry about having dementia past age 80.

City dwellers said they expect new technology to improve their lives past age 80, but they want health care to be administered through in-person or at-home professionals.

Eighty percent say they want to make new friends past age 80, and 60 percent want time for romance and active sex lives at that age. Eighty-four percent cited loss of mobility as a top concern at that age but a majority, 60 percent, said they believe it’s easier to meet new people in a city than elsewhere.

The survey found that 95 percent of city dwellers believe social media will bring them closer to people in their lives when they hit their 80s and 20 percent of respondents expect to work, either full-time or part-time, past age 80.

Respondents all felt their cities currently were livable for older residents, but they differed on the reasons why.

In Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, respondents said public transportation was their city’s best feature for older residents. In Boston, Seattle, Houston and Los Angeles, respondents said public parks, neighborhood amenities, and community centers were the best features.

Miami and Toronto residents said public transportation and parks and neighborhood amenities were those cities’ best features.

Contact Jon Chavez at or 419-724-6128.

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