248212 Promoting aging-friendly urban neighborhoods: Evaluation of the Aging Well at Home Demonstration Program

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 5:24 PM

Judith G. Gonyea, PhD , School of Social Work, Boston University, Boston, MA
The aging of the US population, coupled with the strong desire of the overwhelming majority of Americans to age-in-place or stay in their homes as they grow older, has and will continue to present challenges for local communities. The successful aging paradigm has underscored the importance of not only the immediate environment of home but also the physical and social environment of community on the well-being of seniors. Within the US and globally there is an emerging movement focused on transforming cities and towns to be aging-friendly or lifelong communities and a growing number of pilot programs and initiatives. One such example is the Aging Well at Home Program (AWAH), a 3-year demonstration project of the Jewish Family & Children's Services of Greater Boston which sought to adapt the Israeli Supportive Community Model to the US culture and test its effectiveness on 75 seniors living in an urban neighborhood in Brookline, MA. In this presentation, we describe the core components of the AWAH model and share data from its evaluation, including data on seniors' motivations for joining AWAH, their assessment of the quality of the experience and its impact on their emotional well-being. In fact, comparison of the pre- and post-enrollment data revealed a significant decline in seniors' levels of perceived stress but no significant differences in loneliness and depression. Finally, we will describe how AWAH was a catalyst for the creation of a citywide aging-friendly initiative and will highlight relevant policy and research recommendations.

Learning Areas:
Chronic disease management and prevention
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Other professions or practice related to public health
Program planning
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Explain why if we, as a society, are to promote "successful aging" it is critical to look beyond the minimal provision of four walls and a roof to address how that senior in the home is able to connect to his/her neighborhood and community. 2. Describe the characteristics and core components of an "aging-friendly" or "lifelong" community as well as the opportunities and challenges cities and towns face in achieving this goal. 3. Discuss strategies for the development, implementation and evaluation of neighborhood-based, membership organizations which seek to support seniors’ ability to continue to live in their homes and maintain social connections to the community even as their functional abilities decline.

Keywords: Aging, Community Involvement

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because as chair of the research department at Boston University School of Social Work, I am PI on many program evaluation studies of aging interventions.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.