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Best Cities for Successful Aging | Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA
#5
OVERALL RANKING

Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA


SCORE: 77.84

#5
FOR AGES 65-79
SCORE: 77.66
 
#6
FOR AGES 80+
SCORE: 76.32
 
Percent of Population 65+:  11.63%
Population 65+:  68,556
Total Population:  589,443

Indicator Rank Score Average
AvgScore
Percent
+/-
% +/-
General Livability 29 89.79 87.83 2.23 %
Health Care 5 76.78 62.09 23.66 %
Wellness 43 72.45 72.07 0.53 %
Financial Security 33 90.30 88.25 2.32 %
Education 26 65.41 61.67 6.06 %
Transportation/
Convenience
Transport-
ation
48 44.74 46.42 -3.62 %
Employment 10 73.41 63.96 14.77 %
Living ArrangementsArrange-
ments
33 72.99 69.42 5.14 %
Community EngagementEngage-
ment
1 100.00 73.23 36.56 %
(Three-tier color code: 1-25 Green, 26-75 Black, 76+ Red)
Find out about the methodology used for these indicators

Nailed It


Easy on the wallet

- Affordable living, beating other top metros
- Large service industry; many older workers
- Reasonably priced medical and long-term care services

Focus on older adults’ health

- Hefty roster of primary-care clinicians
- U.S. leader in geriatric services with many rehab and Alzheimer’s facilities

Community engagement

- Many libraries and recreational facilities
- Lots of older volunteers; many civic opportunities
- Funding for programs targeting older adults

Needs Work


Health and lifestyle

- Lack of magnet and Joint Commission-accredited hospitals; few five-star nursing
homes, per U.S. government rankings
- Stuck behind the wheel: sparse public transit
- Too much obesity and binge drinking, too few grocery stores
- Comparatively high Alzheimer’s rates

Takeaway


A strong business environment, good health services, and a relatively low cost of living are selling points in this Midwest city. Once known mainly for its insurance companies and Iowa’s first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses, Des Moines offers a growing cultural scene and has a well-educated older population.5 The downside: comparatively weak healthy-living options.

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General Indicators

Indicator Rank Score Average
Score
Cost of living 37 50.45 46.41
Crime rate 33 56.57 52.77
Internet access 56 82.17 83.51
Employment growth 42 87.19 86.82
Unemployment rate 8 91.57 64.06
Income distribution 15 88.89 86.33
Weather 96 50.80 65.13
Fatal car crashes 13 74.82 51.71

Health-Care Indicators

Indicator Rank Score Average
Score
Medicare enrollment 18 93.16 62.02
Primary-care physicians 15 70.19 57.60
Nurse practitioners and physicians' assistants 29 51.15 45.49
Number of nurses 12 49.08 38.33
Number of hospital beds 37 39.71 37.22
Long-term hospitals 72 0.00 22.49
Hospitals with geriatric services 1 100.00 37.70
Hospitals with rehabilitation services 4 89.93 43.27
Hospitals with Alzheimer's units 6 35.81 11.62
Hospitals with hospice services 6 86.57 31.78
Orthopedic surgeons 70 27.35 31.70
Dialysis centers 57 35.20 40.28
Medical and diagnostic centers 88 30.54 48.95
Physical therapists 22 70.44 56.09
Expenses per inpatient day 2 93.52 62.02
Joint Commission accreditation 100 33.33 83.71
Medical school affiliation 53 42.42 45.76
Magnet hospitals 78 0.00 14.40
ER wait times 50 35.21 40.01
 

Wellness Indicators

Indicator Rank Score Average
Score
Obesity rate 58 66.73 70.79
Smoking rate 52 25.17 30.34
Diabetes rate 21 54.29 48.54
Alzheimer's cases 99 45.72 81.26
Caregivers 14 49.37 39.21
Life expectancy at 65 55 83.25 84.59
Depression 44 43.54 43.31
Physical activity 36 66.12 65.43
Fitness and recreational sports centers 4 69.24 46.08
Fast-food outlets 25 66.14 61.73
Falls with injury 8 50.56 38.43
Binge drinking 98 27.72 40.64
Air quality 36 69.54 67.44

Financial Indicators

Indicator Rank Score Average
Score
Banks and financial institutions 4 60.67 47.44
Total bank deposits 33 6.24 7.24
Tax burden 57 67.92 68.14
Dependency ratio 61 83.83 84.57
Growth of small businesses 24 88.97 86.25
Older adults below poverty line 29 64.23 58.57
Capital gains 85 31.71 49.15
Income growth 28 85.29 84.11
Reverse mortgages 9 34.57 15.80
 

Living Arrangements Indicators

Indicator Rank Score Average
Score
Median house price 53 42.80 44.17
Median rental price 30 76.72 69.47
Households with older adults 86 46.27 55.52
Nursing beds 13 88.23 60.28
Cost of semi-private nursing room 15 80.00 64.62
Home health-care service providers 52 13.10 15.21
Continuing-care facilities 30 25.32 23.14
Cost of assisted living 44 82.29 80.63
Nursing-home rating 80 21.70 36.99
Older adults in family homes 84 80.01 84.60
Cost of adult day services 27 58.33 55.79

Employment Indicators

Indicator Rank Score Average
Score
Percent of 65+ employed 72.79
65+ unemployment rate 30.13
Employment growth in health,education,leisure and hospitality 85.90
Output of service sector/manufacturing 22.62
 

Transportation/Convenience Indicators

Indicator Rank Score Average
Score
Walk score 54 46.68 50.90
Commute times 3 96.02 78.27
Commuters who walk to work 52 30.74 38.41
Number of passenger trips 62 4.04 9.79
Public transport fare 45 11.76 16.65
Investment in public/senior transportation 50 67.92 67.65
Grocery stores 42 34.06 33.58
Special needs transportation 55 24.61 29.60

Community Engagement Indicators

Indicator Rank Score Average
Score
Percent of population 65+ 81 40.55 47.47
Arts, entertainment, and recreation facilities 15 40.21 30.60
Senior volunteer rates 10 71.49 53.28
Number of public libraries 2 94.50 44.65
Number of civic and religious organizations 24 76.89 60.15
Funding for older adults 3 85.42 75.84
 

Education Indicators

Indicator Rank Score Average
Score
Educational attainment 9 96.45 38.00
College enrollment 93 46.20 58.16
Number of community colleges 68 14.72 20.92
Number of universities 4 69.23 38.93