A new study of 1752 adults age 50 and older found that two-thirds think where they live now meets their needs for services like health care, grocery stores, and social opportunities. The majority of those surveyed felt ready to stay in their homes and communities as long as possible, and that they could reach out for help from a loved one or health care provider as they need it. Seventy-nine percent felt that health care services were easy to access and that providers in their area understand their needs and take their concerns seriously. The barriers to aging in place that were identified in the study were communication difficulties such as language barriers (11%), cultural barriers (8%), age gaps (8%), issues with affordability (15%), and issues with respect for their religious (4%) or cultural (3%) background.
Among those who felt less secure were older Hispanic adults, of whom only 59% felt prepared to remain in their own homes, stay in their current communities (60%), and obtain assistance from healthcare providers (53%). Older Black adults also noted challenges in accessing services compared to White adults. Black adults in particular identified a lack of access to healthy foods and the kinds of food they want, while Hispanic adults cite a lack of affordable housing.
The survey identified income disparities were associated with a decreased access to critical aging services for many older adults. Survey respondents with incomes of $50,000 or below were less likely to have access to services in their language (73%), close by or easily accessible services (58%), providers respectful of their religious beliefs (57%), or services designed for people within their age group (53%).
Those living in rural areas rural were less likely than those living in urban and suburban areas to feel that their community and healthcare services are easily accessible. It should also be noted that those aged 50-64 years felt less prepared and felt they had had poorer access to important community services than those ages 65 years and older.
The survey was conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and funded by The SCAN Foundation. The report: EQUITY AND AGING IN THE COMMUNITY is available here.
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