We all know environments we live in affect our COPD. Harsh climates during the seasons, pollution, and extraordinary events such as fires and natural disasters, can negatively affect the life of a patient. With this concern in mind-and with several inquiries from our readers-we undertook the task earlier this year to find what we believe to be the best place to live with COPD.
And a complicated task it was! We began by prioritizing some of the things that COPD patients most readily need, two of which are clean air, and local hospitals with pulmonary rehabilitation programs. Our investigation began with an analysis of the Environmental Protection Agencys (EPA) air quality reports submitted by hundreds of monitoring counties in the U.S. for seven yearsfrom 2000 through 2006. Due to the fact that there are special circumstances that can inhibit a county from reporting their air quality measurements for any given year, all counties who reported five out of the last seven years remained in the race.
After we recorded the seven-year trends for the monitoring counties in all 50 states and Washington D.C., we calculated the average number of unhealthy days per year for every county. After pulling out all the counties with zero averages (meaning, they had zero unhealthy days in seven years), we began to eliminate based on other criteria. We ranked all the zero-averaged counties by the number of hospitals and pulmonary rehabilitation programs in each city. We took the top five cities, and further researched the number of support groups, oxygen providers, assisted living facilities, the cost of living, the crime rate, and population for each.
NUMBER 5: SIOUX FALLS, SOUTH DAKOTA
With more scenic natural wonders than any of the other cities in the Top Five, Sioux Falls, South Dakota is an ideal home for the nature-seeking adventurer in you. Sioux Falls was built around the historic cascades of the Big Sioux River, formed about 14,000 years ago. The Sioux River witnessed different eras in history, from prehistoric peoples creating burial grounds around the river, to Lewis and Clarks voyage through the region. Its presence is magnificent, and the residents of Sioux Falls have done well to preserve their citys environment. Sioux Falls has a perfect trend of clean air from 2000 through 2006, making it a very safe place for people with COPD. In addition to its spectacular air quality record, Sioux Falls also has four hospitalstwo of which have pulmonary rehabilitation centerswithin its city limits. Life is made easier for the COPD patient with the three support groups that meet in the area, the neighborhood oxygen provider, and over 30 senior living and retirement complexes to choose from. Sioux Falls is one of the safest areas in the U.S. with a crime rate score of 68much less than the national average of 100. The cost of living for a family in Sioux Falls is estimated at $63,940. Beautiful scenery, a healthy environment, and comfortable living, are Sioux Falls qualities that earned it the number five spot.
NUMBER 4: NAPLES, FLORIDA
Naples is one of the fastest growing cities in Florida. Its shores on the Gulf of Mexico make it ideal for the beach and warm weather-loving COPDer. You cant miss the sightseeing experience of a lifetime, with the Everglades and Marco Island as two bodies of water to explore in Naples. Take a boat on one of these tourist places and youll catch a glimpse or two of dolphins, sea turtles, birds, and manatees. On land, the city is saturated with premier golf courses, extravagant shopping, and restaurants of many exotic cuisines to choose from. Naples gives you the feeling of being in a resortall the time. But its remarkable air quality record for the past seven years is what makes Naples one of the best places for COPD patients to live. Naples is the core of Collier County, with the most number of hospitals and pulmonary rehabilitation facilities in the area (four, and three, respectively). The COPD patient has a support group that meets in the area, as well as two oxygen providers. And best of all, Naples has several assisted living and senior retirement homes to choose froma perfect location for the retired worker, but fisherman-in-training.
NUMBER 3: FORT SMITH, ARKANSAS
The first of two Arkansan cities that made it to the Top Five Best Places to Live with COPD, Fort Smith has an excellent record of unpolluted air for the past seven years. Fort Smith is located on the Arkansas-Oklahoma border, where the rivers Arkansas and Poteau meet. Its role in the settlement of the Wild West, and origins as one of the first military posts in Arkansas, gives Fort Smith a place in history. But the city is also a haven for the modern artist. Whether youre into classical music, dance, or theater, Fort Smith has something to offer. And on your way to the theater, you can observe the beautiful architecture of the Fort Smith Art Center, or take a step into the past by visiting the Trolley Museum. Sacred pieces of American history lie within the confines of Fort Smith, including the U.S. National Cemetery and the Oak Cemetery. With several hospitals and medical centers, and a pulmonary rehabilitation facility nearby, COPD patients can also feel at ease without the worry of unhealthy air quality in Sebastian County. There are six local home care providers, two oxygen providers, and seven assisted living and retirement homes in Fort Smith. There is also a local support group that meets in the area. The average familys cost of living in 2005 was just below $57,000, and the population was a little over 79,500. Fort Smith has so much to discover, and its a wonderful little city that makes a great home for a COPD patient.
NUMBER 2: AMARILLO, TEXAS
At number two, we take you to the Lone-Star State for a quick visit to Amarillo. This small town offers an overwhelming amount of fun outdoor attractions to be enjoyed by COPD patients. Amarillos perfect seven-year air quality record allows COPD patients to enjoy walking around the annual Tri-State fair, or sight-seeing at the Palo Duro Canyon which offers a beautiful scenery featuring springs and several stables operating horseback trail rides. The Wildcatt Bluff Nature Center is a wonderful escape from the world to immerse into the wildlife by watching birds, hawks, and other creatures in their habitat.
Every summer, you can purchase tickets to see the Lone Star Risinga traditional outdoor concert event celebrating the history of the city. During the day you can visit the Panhandle- Plains Historical Museum and see the tools used by oil drillers during the Great Depression or pieces of traditional Native American dress. Then take a trip down to the Texas Panhandle War Memorial to see the tribute built for the Texan veterans of all American wars. After visiting the museums, you can pass a relaxing afternoon with a few friends by playing a game of miniature golf or watching the sun set.
Amarillo is positively packed with opportunities to experience the lively nature of Texan history. But Amarillo also has reason to be proud of its COPD patient-friendly environment. Amarillo has many assisted living and retirement homes which give the COPD patient the opportunity to pick one that suits their needs. With three pulmonary rehabilitation facilities, a local oxygen provider, and its cost of living per family at $58,917, Amarillo is deserving of the number two slot. And with a population of approximately 179,500, Amarillo has that cozy feeling of being home.
NUMBER 1: FAYETTEVILLE, ARKANSAS
We return to Arkansas to visit the city that holds the top slot for the COPD Digests Top Five Best Places to Live with COPD. Fayetteville is an ideal small town that can adjust to your mood. Whether you feel like experiencing the nightlife with live music on a restaurant patio, or taking it easy by experiencing nature at its finest, Fayetteville has everything you want . . . and need.
Fayettevilles strength lies in the safety it offers the seasoned COPD patient. It holds an outstandingly low crime rate record the lowest of our top five citieswith the personal crime rate score at 66. According to CNN Money Magazines most recent inquiry, homes in Fayetteville have witnessed a 6% gain in 2005 and the city has experienced 17.32% job growth between 2000 and 2005. The cost of living per family in 2005 was $54,871, and it has the smallest population of any of the top five cities, standing at 66,700 inhabitants. Fayettevilles friendly neighborhood atmosphere takes special care of its COPD residents with a variety of healthcare options. Of the four hospitals and medical centers, two have pulmonary rehabilitation facilities. There is also a local COPD support group to join. Fayetteville has a local-serving oxygen provider that satisfies the needs of the citys inhabitants. There are also a few friendly retirement communities a COPD patient could call home.
Throughout the year, Fayetteville never ceases to be in motion. In April, you can watch an exciting live reenactment of the Battle of Fayetteville. You can visit the Downtown Square for a variety of activities to take part in. From restaurants of all types of cuisine, to local shops, everything is at reach in Downtown Square. If you feel like exploring the history of Fayetteville, you will need to take a few days to see everything the city has to show you. Historic homes of Fayettevilles early settlers, such as the Gregg House, Gunter House, and Headquarters House, can be visited. Other historic buildings, such as the Old Post Office and the Old Washington County Courthouse, are other options for your historic exploration. But Fayetteville also has the natural beauty radiated from the Ozark foothills upon which the town was built. The citys characteristics are what make it the COPD Digests nomination for the best place to live in the United States.
THE BEST PLACE FOR YOU
If nothing on this list tickles your fancy, or if youre looking to stay closer to home, there are many options to consider in finding a new best place to livefor you. First, consider the type of city size you wish to live in. Do you want to live in the hustle-and-bustle of a city, or a calm and quiet town away from it all? Or do you want something in the middle, with everything you need but without the loud noises of traffic? Also ask yourself: what climate do I most enjoy? Some COPD patients relish fresh, humid air, and others crave the dry heat of the desert. Keep in mind the geography you like the best. If you cant imagine passing a winter without snow, or need to be near the ocean, or have a penchant for thick, lush forests, consider these things when choosing a new location to make home. Asking yourself these questions will help you narrow down the places that suit your needs and wants.
Geography should not be the only factor you use in choosing a new place to live. Consider the cost of housing, the jobs available for you or your spouse, and the tax system in the area youre looking into. These will help you locate places that are affordable to you. The local education system might also be a consideration, depending on your interests. You should also consider other factors such as population, public transportation, and crime rate. Your personal life and activities shouldnt be interrupted by your move. Find out if your denomination has a church in the areas you are considering, as well as if any of your primary membership groups (such as the Kiwanis or Shriners) have a meeting place in those areas. You can also check for recreation and arts, and other cultural opportunities like painting classes or local theatres, in your area.
Of course, dont forget the local health system! Consider the state public health care system. And as we have done in our inquiry, check the number of hospitals and pulmonologists in your area. Be sure that there are hospitals and pulmonary rehabilitation facilities nearby; you dont want to have to travel far in case of an emergency. If you use supplemental oxygen, evaluate the local home health care providers. And if youre interested, contact local COPD support groups if they are available. Using all of these factors in your search will help you find the best place to live for you: not just as a COPD patient, but including your personal life as well. This way, youll be on the road to a better environment for healthy living while maintaining your lifestyle. But before you start packing boxes, make sure to send us a change of address postcard! Because even your best place wont be the best it can be without your subscription to the COPD Digest.