Senior Needs Study Shows Changing
In order to help identify the main concerns of the community
related to the older adult population, the Valley Senior Services Council
and the Valley Council for Health & Human Services
along with the Valley United Way, embarked on an effort to assess the
needs of this population. The new Hewitt Foundation provided the bulk
of the funding to complete the study. To assist with this effort, the
United Way of Connecticut’s Community Results Center (CRC) conducted a
multi-faceted research project, which included focus groups with older
residents, and focus groups and interviews with providers of services to
this segment of the population. Past research that focused on the needs of
older adults was also reviewed.
The focus groups with residents were meant to reveal areas
of greatest concern to older adults. The interviews and the focus group with
service providers shed light on the services provided and uncovered the
areas where needs are not being met. The focus groups and interviews
specifically asked participants to consider the top issues facing older
adults in their community and gaps which exist in services for older adults.
The report begins with an overview of the main issues raised during the
research. It continues with a review of population statistics, including the
growth of this segment of the population, race and ethnicity, and poverty
levels. It also reviews the service requests made by older adults to the
United Way’s 2-1-1 information and referral service, calls made to the
Agency on Aging of South Central Connecticut, and research conducted in the
Valley since 2000. The report then reviews the major issues that were
brought to light by the discussions with residents and service providers in
There were four main issues
that residents and service providers highlighted during focus group and
While noting that there are a number of options available to seniors for
medical and recreational transit, residents also noted a number of areas
that are lacking. Older adults suggested that transit services are not
currently offered in the evening and on weekends and that not all
transit services can transport wheelchairs.
Social services – Older residents
and service providers alike expressed an urgent need for social service
assistance. Providers say there is no longer social service support at
the town level and there is a need for an outreach worker who can
provide direct service to homebound older residents.
Housing – Older adults in many towns
in Connecticut are experiencing housing challenges, and those in the
Valley are no different. These challenges include the limited stock of
small one-story homes suitable for downsizing, rising property taxes,
long waiting lists for public housing, and the difficulty in maintaining
or modifying existing homes. Older residents of public housing are also
concerned about the impact younger disabled residents who live in public
housing have on their living environment.
Healthcare – Overall, interviews and
focus groups suggest that the Valley provides older adults with adequate
opportunities for health screenings and that this type of support for
senior health is critical to maintain.
Click here to
read the Executive Summary.