Online Program

Social networks as facilitators to age-friendly communities

Monday, November 2, 2015

Amy Eisenstein, CJE SeniorLife, Chicago
Rebecca Johnson, PhD, Buehler Center on Aging, Health & Society, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL
Lara Boyken, Buehler Center on Aging, Health & Society, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL
Social networks have the potential to support older adults of all income levels to successfully age in the community by connecting them to resources, services, and social engagement, which lead to an enriched aging experience. Numerous networks and supportive communities are emerging that vary in terms of scope of support, costs, and benefits. However, there is little research that compares the health status of members or environmental constructs of various networks. We present age-friendly satisfaction ratings made by members of several community groups in Chicago. Surveys were distributed across 77 community areas administered as part of a baseline assessment of the age-friendliness for the city. A total of 2,600 individuals completed the survey. The survey included items on outdoor spaces and buildings, transportation, housing, communication and information, social participation, community support and health services, respect and social inclusion, demographics, and general health. Our findings suggest that the general health of older adults who associate with a social network reflects the average for the US population, and that while the city of Chicago is generally considered “age-friendly” by those respondents, older residents have different satisfaction levels by domain and individual indicator level.  Comparisons between diverse social networks in Chicago highlight important differences in satisfaction with access to services, housing, and social participation.  Using community based participatory methods, we are disseminating findings back to community groups to facilitate knowledge exchange about “age-friendliness” and engage members  interested in building age-friendly communities.  

Learning Areas:

Environmental health sciences
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the core domains of the age-friendly framework Compare and contrast age friendly ratings reported by community groups supporting diverse social networks Discuss characteristics of social networks available for healthy older adults

Keyword(s): Aging, Quality of Life

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the principal investigator for the city of Chicago's age-friendly baseline assessment. Among my interests is the development of conversations in the community about health policy and health policy related issues affecting the quality of life of older adults.
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.