What’s Needed for a Senior-Friendly Community?

age friendly communityWith an eye toward making Central Florida a more age-friendly community for older adults, the Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF) has approved a $10,300 grant to Rollins College to research the topic.

As part of a recent grant, Rollins College will engage the SalterMitchell Research Company in Orlando to gather important data from local older adults. Participants will be asked to share their experiences accessing public venues such as grocery and drug stores, restaurants, banks, parks and other settings. They will be asked to identify places where they feel supported by the environment and places that they believe can be improved.  Researchers will pursue specifics regarding what characteristics make the older adult feel supported as well as what is lacking.  Data will be gathered through in-person focus groups and via an online survey.

The goal is to identify key content for a regional aging conference designed to educate businesses and local communities on ways to better serve older adult residents through enhancements supporting healthier living, expanding access to goods and services, and promoting needed housing and transportation options. The conference is planned for November 2015 and will coincide with the Gerontological Society of America’s (GSA) annual scientific meeting in Orlando.

SalterMitchell will also conduct four to six in-depth interviews with key business and community leaders, to determine what actions they are currently taking (or plan on taking) to make their businesses or communities more age-friendly. This information will serve as a baseline for conference planners to better understand how well stakeholders understand the impact environmental factors have on their aging customers/constituents, as well as how proactive they are in implementing change.

“We know aging can present challenges due to changes in mobility, vision, hearing, stamina and strength,” said Diana Silvey, WPHF Program Director for Older Adults.  “Businesses and communities need to better understand that the built environment can impact how their older adult customers function and in turn, this experience can influence where they choose to shop, dine, and live. Given the expected growth in the older adult population, businesses and communities need to begin making modifications to the built environment to keep their customers.”

The report of findings gathered from this research is expected i