Aging in Place National Research


The Center for Media Research posted national research on Aging in Place in their online newsletter. Clarity did the resesarch. There is a link above. I've copied and pasted the summary below. Basically, seniors want to stay in their homes. Technology can help them. Their baby boomer children can help them. But the seniors don't ask for help and not that many use technology. There has to be a solution somewhere. Read on....

Thursday, November 8, 2007
Seniors Want to "Age In Place," And Want Technology To Help
According to a new research study by Clarity and The EAR Foundation, 26% of senior citizens rated loss of independence and 13% rated moving out of home into a nursing home as their greatest fears. These two possibilities are a much higher concern than death, which was the greatest fear for only three percent of Seniors.
And, the children of Seniors also fear for their parents, with particular concern about their emotional and physical well-being should they have to enter a nursing home.
For the "Aging in Place in America" study, two groups were surveyed to allow a comparative analysis of the attitudes of Seniors age 65 and older who are living at home with those of Baby Boomers who have Senior parents.
Significant key findings include:
The vast majority of Seniors (89%) want to age in place - or grow older without having to move from their homes - and more than half (53%) are concerned about their ability to do so
A large majority (82%) of Baby Boomers fear their parents will be mistreated in a nursing home and 89% fear they will be sad
Seniors living at home are determined to maintain their independence, but they report that they require (and receive) limited support from their children or other caregivers
Not only are Boomers concerned about their aging parents, almost two-thirds (63%) are providing some kind of help or support to them.
Half of Seniors are open to using new technologies to enable independence, including having sensors installed in their homes to monitor their health
Baby Boomers have not turned to technology to assist their aging parents. Only 14% have actually looked for solutions that would help them ensure the health and safety of their parents
Peter Bell, president of National Aging in Place Council, says "These findings tell us that, above all else, older Americans value their ability to live independently..."
And Clarity president, Carsten Trads, agrees saying ".... Independent living is a key determinant of quality of life for seniors... "
Seniors cited three primary concerns that could jeopardize their ability to live independently:
53% say health problems
26% say memory problems
23% say inability to drive and/or get around
They said they do not expect, nor do they receive, much support from those around them.
55% of Seniors view themselves as very independent in that they receive no assistance from their children and seem content with that
75% said their children are involved "enough" in their life
Of the Seniors who do require help from others, 20% receive assistance with household maintenance, 13% with transportation, 8% with healthcare, and 1% reported receiving any financial support.
Almost half of Seniors are comfortable using personal computers, Internet and email. Not surprisingly, Seniors' comfort level with computer technology decreased in older age groups, particularly those over 75 years of age.
65% of Seniors said they are open to or would like to use new technologies that enable independence. 54% would consider the use of ambient technology in their homes (specifically, sensors) to monitor their health and safety.
"Seniors are clearly more open to technology than many people believe," said Trads.
Like Seniors, Baby Boomers are open to new technologies that would help Seniors age in place, but very few are actively seeking these products, says the report.
49% of Baby Boomers are interested in new technologies that would help them monitor their parents' safety and wellbeing
51% of the Baby Boomers also think there are technology products available aimed at meeting the needs of Seniors
50% would be open to the use of ambient technology to monitor the health and safety of their aging parents
But, only 14% of Baby Boomers have actually looked for any technology solutions that would help them ensure the health and safety of their parents
Trads concludes "From the iPod to the Blackberry, technology is such an everyday part of Baby Boomers' lives; however they have not yet realized the potential benefit of technology to help care for their parents. More technology solutions need to be developed to allow aging in place, so that Boomers and other caregivers have more options when trying to help our aging Americans."
Please visit here to read a more complete review of the report.

Post your response to the public Research Brief blog. See what others are saying on the Research Brief blog.

Transportation Issues for Seniors in Darien

On September 28 The Human Services Planning Council help a Senior Summit. Here are the results of the transportation workshop.

Senior Summit
Transportation Workshop Results

Held Friday, September 28, 2007

Existing Transportation for Seniors:
· Gallivant – runs M-F, 9 – 4, suggested donation - $5. Has wheelchair lift, door-to-door service, will run people from home to anywhere in Darien, Stamford, Norwalk. Must make appointment day ahead. Must be able to get to van from front door.
o Driven by professional drivers who work part-time
o Administered by Darien Social Services.
o Has a state grant to expand services but is limited in using the grant because it could make the p.t. employees full-time, thus requiring benefits. Grant still not used. But could be used for trips or expanded services via another part-time employee.
o Board says that weekend and evening rides have been offered but were undersubscribed.
o Biggest Challenge – low demand
· Red Cross – private car or van driven by volunteers takes people to medical appointments. Volunteers available on MWF to take calls for appointments. Must be ambulatory and be able to get to the car from front door.
o Provides 1,000 rides per year.
o Biggest Challenge – need more volunteer drivers
· Norwalk Transit District (CT Transit) – Runs buses from Westport to Greenwich. Anyone who is disabled and living in Stamford or within ¾ of a mile from a main route in Darien can get door-to-door service on a special van. Rides are $2.50. Must get tickets for rides in advance. (Americans with Disabilities Act is catalyst for this service.)
o Seniors in Darien could take the bus along Route 1, but tend not to.
o Biggest challenge – underutilized.
· Churches have volunteers that drive their own members of the congregations to church services and activities.
· Family and Children’s Agency (“FCA”) – has a grant to provide transportation to people over 60. Uses car and van to deliver services – will take people shopping, to activities or to medical appointments. Free to low income people. Charges fee to everyone else. Fees for everything ranging from homemakers to handymen are $20/hour. They serve all of Fairfield County. Drivers are vetted. Driving is available by appointment and is available night and day.
o Challenge – getting the word out.
· The Darien Library delivers books.
· Note by State Senator Bob Duff – state funding is available to help with transportation needs. He wants people to contact him about their needs.
Needs, Gaps, Questions and Ideas from other towns

· Seniors reluctant or can’t drive at night.
· How do they define night?
· What alternatives would they be willing to use?
· Need for transportation at night to take seniors to cultural events at the Library and other places.
· Post 53 gets calls from people who would like transportation to medical appointments. They refer them to Red Cross or to private ambulette services.
· How to use state grant for transportation and Gallivant?
· First Selectwoman Evonne Klein pointed out that Westport had a program to take Vets to the Veterans’ Hospital. Maybe we could piggyback or get a grant to set up a point of central communications about transportation via SWRPA.
· Greenwich -- At Home in Greenwich, based on Beacon Hill, is positioned as a social club and is starting up and is looking into programs that work in their own community.
· Greenwich has call-a-ride – discount for seniors to take taxis.
o But there is reluctance for seniors to take the taxis at night. Belief is that they are underutilized due to fear.
o Call a ride may lease vans in future.
· Transportation Association of Greenwich (“TAG”) runs shuttles to trains and provides call-a-ride.
· Education needed about what is available, such as the bus.
· Need to understand why seniors don’t want to take public transportation or any of the transportation options that are underutilized. What are they doing, if they don’t drive?
· Library and other organizations need to find out who isn’t coming and how to get them to programs at nights.
· Questions that are being and should be asked:
o DCA can ask members what transportation needs really are and why seniors don’t use what is already being offered.
o Gallivant can ask its users and non-users the same thing.
o What word-of-mouth is going on among seniors about transportation?
o In a perfect world, would seniors take taxis, if they were free? Why or why not?
o Is there a stigma to using Gallivant?
o What fears do seniors have?
o Is coming home to a deserted house at night a deterrent to going to night time activities?
· The Red Cross does shopping for the home-bound, as does Rotary in Westport?
o What other organizations do things or could do things for seniors?
· We need private/public cooperation and pooling of resources.
· Need to make maps of bus routes and bus stops easily available.
· Could a campaign of neighborliness be started? Help a senior? Help each other?
· Could we have a “Safe Rides” for seniors?
· Could we have a social event to introduce services?
· What is Portland, ME, doing with its transportation for seniors program?
· What can SWRPA tell us?
· Can we have a program that transports all types of people? Kids to activities, as well as seniors, to reduce stigma?

Next Steps
· Send this summary to workshop attendees
· Workshop attendees volunteered to look into:
o What New Canaan, Stamford and Greenwich are doing that works for senior transportation. Why does it work?
o Red Cross, DCA and Library will ask seniors why they don’t use transportation services that exist and what they would like instead (if anything).
· We will meet again and share the results of the individual research.

Senior Summit

Our church (The First Congregational Church of Darien) is starting a "buddy list" for seniors, so that we can help each other in times of need and just sort of keep tabs on each other.

The Community Fund of Darien is going to hold a Senior Summit on September 28. The idea is to get all the agencies and for-profits who serve seniors in our area together. We'll discuss what we all do and discover where we have gaps in service. We'll explore needs, too.

Contact the Community Fund of Darien, if you want to come. Here's the invitation;

The Aging in Place Committee
of The Community Fund of Darien
invites you to its

For Senior Service Providers

1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
274 Middlesex Avenue, Darien

Introductory remarks by Diana Kalman,
Chairman of the American Federation for Aging Research

Presentation by the Aging in Place Committee

Break-out groups to discuss identified issues –
transportation, communication/isolation, handyman/vetted services –
and begin to develop solutions
This summit will bring together professionals from both not-for-profit and for-profit organizations and companies for an afternoon dedicated to problem-solving about how to help our seniors live comfortably and safely in their homes.
Please complete the enclosed form for each person who will be attending and return to: The Community Fund of Darien, P.O. Box 926, 701 Post Road, Darien, CT 06820.

For more information, please contact Kiki Karpen, Executive Director at or call 655-8775

Progress on Aging in Place

I haven't written for awhile. But we now have an active list of Handymen for our Handyman Corps. AND we have people calling for help within our church family (First Congregational Church of Darien).

On the town front -- our Aging in Place with Grace committee is learning much more and starting to get volunteers to start a town-wide handyman corps, run out of the Darien Community Association.

The Darien Times has posted a list online of services that help seniors in our area.

And Darien Social Services has published a booklet, called The Senior Services Directory, which lists 100 agencies in our area that help seniors. Learn more by clicking on the Social Services link on the Darien Town Web site: That site also has access to the directory.

That's all for now.

Aging In Place in the News

In the past two weeks, community help for people who are aging has been in the news. Two weeks ago, the Darien Times ran a piece by Kathy Lake on the needs of our town's aging population. Last week the paper ran an opinion piece by me on the Aging in Place initiatives of the Human Services Planning Council and The First Congregational Church of Darien. These articles have gotten a response. Older people who are complete strangers to me have called or emailed to tell me that they didn't know that local services exist to help the elderly. It just shows that communication needs improvement -- and that people do need help. You can contact me at That's my newspaper column email address.

On Sunday, the Stamford Advocate ran an article on Stamford Senior Services. This article (see link below) clearly showed all the services that an organization can supply. I'm going to talk to them to see what I can learn.,0,4970867.story?coll=inthecommunity-headlines

Handyman Services

What services do people need to help them age at home? In our research, handyman services and transportation topped the list.

Yesterday, we met the founder of Handy Dandy Handyman Service, Peter Brady. HDHM is a nonprofit right here in Connecticut. They do chores and provide handyman services to people for free. They rake leaves, fix roofs, change lightbulbs, paint.... You name it; they do it. They help the shut-ins, the needy and people who just aren't able to do these things themselves or have trouble finding help or hiring help. In the end, lots of folks wind up giving the organization a donation because they are so grateful.

Visit their Web site to learn more at: Peter started this organization to give back to his community and to God. What he and his volunteers have accomplished in seven years is truly amazing and is a model we are looking at closely. Stay tuned for more information about our quest to help people Age In Place -- Age with Grace.

what research reveals

We conducted focus groups with older Darien residents. Here's what we found:

· Virtually all people interviewed want to stay in their homes – or at least in Darien.
· Many complained that Darien offers limited ways to downsize but stay in town. They want smaller, senior-friendly housing without having to leave the town they love and their friends. They mentioned the need for more condos and rental apartments.
· They are all independent-minded and do not want to ask for help or feel that they need help. When they get help, they feel guilty about receiving it.
· Most want to help others and are vibrant people who want to learn and volunteer.
· However, they are concerned about those who cannot take care of themselves.
· They’d like to learn more about what available to help them but don’t want to be “sold”.
· They love the elements of the community that make up their individual support network -- their friends, their churches, the DCA, the Senior Center, and being near family.
· They love the library, the beach, Long Island Sound, being near NYC and other stimulating and cultural places, the suburban feel and look of Darien.

They cited the following issues as obstacles to staying in their homes as they age:
· Increasing taxes and cost of living
· Home maintenance issues – from getting small handyman-type jobs done, to getting garbage to the dump, to getting leaves raked.
o They want “affordable”, reliable, responsive, trustworthy service
· Transportation – getting to the store, to doctors or to therapy (Gallivant and Red Cross both have limitations.)
· Fear of isolation (“What if no one knew my helper hadn’t arrived?”)
· Communication – lack of awareness of what is available.

These findings reaffirmed many issues raised in a 1999 survey among seniors in Darien.

So, we're going to explore the following:
· Research what other communities have done and are doing to address these issues. Do not “reinvent the wheel”, but look for a model that could work in Darien.
· Start small and grow a grassroots effort to address problems. For example:
o Handyman volunteers and/or a list of “vetted” service providers
o Expand Gallivant or start an independent transportation system.
· Create a better, cohesive plan for getting the word out about what exists to help seniors in Darien and our area.
· Continue to reach out to seniors and engage them in conversation as to how they can help each other through a volunteer network.