Senior walking in the park
(Credit: Getty Images)

An online tool rating community livability could be a “powerful tool” for senior living operators and prospective residents and their families, according to the organization behind it.

AARP’s Public Policy Institute relaunched its Livability Index, scoring communities on the services and amenities they provide that affect people’s lives as they age. The index also includes the country’s top-scoring cities for livability for 2022. 

“The Livability Index is a powerful tool for senior living operators, as well as senior living residents and many others,” AARP Vice President for Family, Home and Community Rodney Harrell told McKnight’s Senior Living. The tool, he added, “provides the clearest picture yet of how well a community meets needs across one’s lifespan, regardless of income, physical ability or ethnicity.”

The index, launched in 2015, scores livability by using more than 50 national data sources to measure 61 community characteristics across seven categories: housing, neighborhood, transportation, environment, health, engagement and opportunity. This year’s index includes accessory dwelling units and highlights the states that enacted laws to support those units, also known as detached in-law suites, guest houses or “granny pods.”

Users can search the index by address, ZIP code or community to find an overall category score, identify challenges in their community, and compare their neighborhood to others across performance benchmarks.

A neighborhood with a higher score, Harrell said, typically would means that it offers more amenities that support senior living residents and their families and visitors, including access to transportation options, parks and other factors supporting quality of life. AARP designed the index to allow users to “dive in and see the individual metrics” within each neighborhood score, he added.

“So an operator could view some of the trade-offs between one location and another by using the index. This is particularly important for those who are trying to manage costs,” Harrell said. “When amenities exist within the larger community, it’s usually more efficient than having to artificially recreate that within the walls of a senior living community, and it always gives more options.”

Those options are key, he said, whether the user is an independent living resident who wants to get around, a middle-market community owner looking to be more efficient in the provision of services, or prospective staff members eyeing transportation to and from work.

“Any operator can use the index to jumpstart the process of choosing a location and understanding the trade-offs with any other choice, whether it is across town, across the state or across the country,” Harrell said. “Because we designed the index to address needs of all ages and incomes, it can give hints about what residents, caregivers, staff and others may face in the community.”

Harrell added that he has seen firsthand the advantages for residents, families and staff members in higher-scoring locations.

“We can’t be sure that an operator could lower costs by moving to a higher-scoring location, as there are many factors at play in that calculation,” he said. “However, whether we are looking at efficiency or the quality of life for individuals, the index gives a great starting point to understanding the pros and cons of each neighborhood.”
Along with overall livability trends, the AARP identified the top 10 large, mid-size and small cities, and small towns on the index.

Related Articles