Tuesday, October 18, 2011

City Releases Key Findings of Survey of Residents Age 50 and Older

Bingo may be nearing the end of its glory days at the City's senior centers. No plans exist to phase out this popular activity, but the current senior population in Somerville is itself already changing. And as baby boomers in the city join their ranks, local seniors are likely to have new needs and interests, says a survey conducted over the past year by the Somerville Housing Department.

To determine which issues are of importance to older residents, the City conducted The Survey of Residents Age 50 and Older over the past year. Key findings will help guide future policies around senior services. To further analyze and discuss these findings, Mayor Curtatone will also convene a Senior Working Group, which will make suggestions for policies and strategies to allow residents to age in place and remain involved in the community. Residents are also invited to discuss the report at Upcoming ResiStat Community Meetings (see below).

Among other key issues, the survey found that the senior population in Somerville is changing and will continue to change: 

  • Residents aged 45-64 have higher incomes and are more likely to have gone to college than current seniors. 
  • Most older residents live either alone or with one other person, presenting challenges as far as independent living long-term. 
  • Older residents want to remain in Somerville, in their current homes. 
  • At the same time, many have concerns about how to age in place, due to long-term accessibility and maintenance costs, among other factors. 
  • Respondents cited particular concerns about deciding where to retire, including access to grocery stores and fresh produce, access to transit, and the availability of cultural activities.

"With the baby boomer generation quickly approaching retirement age, the results of this survey will serve as great tools as we continue to work to provide for a changing senior demographic," Mayor Curtatone said. "We are looking to provide lifelong learning opportunities, to bring a varied menu of services and programs, from cooking classes to computer-focused activities to more active trips, while also balancing the needs of our older seniors who do still want to relax with a game of Bingo."

"Additionally, the survey has provided great insight into the needs and wants of residents nearing retirement age, and what services are important in keeping those seniors here in Somerville," Mayor Curtatone noted. "Somerville has been lauded recently for its walkability, however we need to ensure that the city is walkable for all ages, and that services are close enough and easy enough to provide for these demographics, as reinforced by survey respondents."

The Senior Working Group will convene later this fall to explore ways to address issues identified in the study. The Working Group will be comprised of representatives from City Government, the Council on Aging, the City's Housing Division, health, elder services, transportation, and immigrant services, among other sectors.

Among other issues, the Senior Working Group will explore:

  • financial mechanisms for assisting older residents, 
  • ways to make aging in place more affordable, 
  • creating opportunities for seniors to access support services in their homes, 
  • expanding cultural offerings,
  • increasing recreational and fitness opportunities.

Disscuss the Report at Upcoming ResiStat Meetings
The report findings will be presented and discussed at upcoming ResiStat Community Meetings, and residents will be asked to share their ideas, concerns, and interests on the issue. The full ResiStat Meeting schedule is HERE. The first meeting is the Ward 7 (West Somerville) meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 25, at 6:30 p.m., at the Powder House Neighborhood School, 177 Powder House Blvd.

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