As the US population ages and the number of older people who are “aging in place” increases, communities will face new opportunities and challenges in responding to this population's desires and needs. Qualitative research was conducted to inform the development of a model of an “elder-friendly community” and a set of indicators to measure and help improve community capacity to promote the health and well-being of older residents. Focus groups were conducted in four US cities with younger and older adults and community leaders who identified attributes that make a community a good place in which to grow old. The group interactions were videotaped, transcribed, and analyzed to identify common themes. Results were remarkably similar across sites. Participants said that a community could be considered elder-friendly if it helped older residents continue active participation in the community, sustain their independence, and reduce the risk of isolation. A model of an elder-friendly community, along with corresponding indicators, was created on the basis of focus group results. These tools are being tested in 10 pilot communities to determine their usefulness for measuring older people's health and well-being, prioritizing aging issues, and stimulating and informing action strategies to improve community “elder-friendliness.”
From the Center for Home Care Policy and Research, Visiting Nurse Service of New York.
Corresponding author: Penny Hollander Feldman, PhD, Director, Center for Home Care Policy and Research, Visiting Nurse Service of New York, 107 E. 70th St, New York, NY 10021 (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).