262129 Age-friendly communities and self-rated health: An exploration of Detroit elders

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Amanda J. Lehning, PhD , School of Social Work, University of Michigan, Berkeley, CA
Richard Smith, PhD , School of Social Work, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
Ruth Dunkle, PhD , School of Social Work, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Within the past decade, many organizations have proposed “age-friendly” models to help communities adapt the social and physical environment to promote elder health and well-being. To date, however, there is little evidence regarding the relationship between these models and outcomes in older adults. Using measures based on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Model for Age-Friendly Cities, we examined the association between the social and physical environment and self-rated health through secondary analysis of interview data from 1,376 adults age 60 and older living in Detroit and geographic data on their community characteristics. Using exploratory factor analysis, we identified six factors that capture the EPA Model: 1) access to business and leisure, 2) access to health care, 3) neighborhood problems, 4) social interaction, 5) social support, and 6) community engagement. We measured self-rated health as a dichotomous variable (0=poor/fair, 1=good/very good/excellent). In the final logistic regression model, having sources of social support and being engaged in the community was significantly positively associated with higher self-rated health, while living in neighborhoods characterized by multiple problems was significantly negatively associated with higher self-rated health. Access to business and leisure, access to health services, and social interaction were not significant. These findings suggest that certain aspects of the EPA Model may be more relevant for the health and well-being of an urban elderly population that is overwhelmingly African American and majority low income. Future research should examine the outcomes associated with this age-friendly model in other populations of older adults.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify characteristics of an age-friendly community 2. Explain the relationship between these characteristics and self-rated health among a sample of older adults 3. Discuss how the relationship between age-friendly communities and self-rated health may differ among older adults from diverse racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: My research focuses on aging in place. In 2010 I received my PhD from UC Berkeley, where my dissertation focused on local government policies to create more aging-friendly communities. I am currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan School of Social Work, where I am examining how aging-friendly communities impact elder health, well-being, and the ability to age in place.
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.