Online Program

Sustainable living in retirement communities: Housing modifications to help seniors age in place

Monday, November 4, 2013

Kristy A. Siegel, MPH, CPH, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, University of South Florida, College of Public Health, Tampa, FL
Carla L. VandeWeerd, PhD, Department of Industrial and Management Systems Engineering, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Jaime Corvin, PhD, MSPH, Department of Global Health, College of Public Health, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Lynea Bach, MPH, CPH, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Donna Petersen, ScD, College of Public Health, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Background: Aging in place, the ability to remain in the same home as opposed to being institutionalized, is preferred by many aging adults. Research indicates that remaining in one's own home allows for a continued sense of independence that may sustain health stamina. However, modifications to the home are often necessary. Methods: As part of an exploratory study of The Villages, FL, an active adult retirement community, qualitative health data were collected from seniors (55+) via 59 focus groups, stratified by age (+/- 70 yrs), gender (male/female), and health status (excellent/good, fair/poor) between September and December 2011 (N=451). Focus group data were transcribed, coded, and analyzed via content analysis to identify salient themes using NVivo 9.0. Results: Content analysis revealed residents' satisfaction with initial modifications completed by the community builders. Modified housing designs included single-level homes with no step up; grab bars in tubs; raised toilet seats; and roll-in showers. As aging participants' needs shifted, they expressed continued desires for additional modifications to their homes including: ramps to the front door; wider door jams to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers; and straight hallways to accommodate gurneys in case of emergency removal from the home. Conclusion: The Villages community has been successful in implementing many modifications to homes to help seniors age in place, and residents and builders are interested in expanding these efforts to ensure continued successful aging. This study serves as a foundation for discussion with home owners, community planners, and retirement communities to make it easier for seniors to age in place.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Identify barriers to aging in place in late life; Describe the impact of aging in place on health and wellness; Identify housing modifications that can be implemented to help seniors age in place

Keyword(s): Elderly, Environment

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have over 10 years experience researching the impact of the built environment on health. As a research associate, I was a part of the development of the focus group guide, led focus groups, and analyzed the qualitative data collected in this study.
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.