SUPPORT OF SENIORS A TOP COMMUNITY PRIORITY

Survey Details Need for Additional Services

MANCHESTER, NH – The vast majority of Queen City residents feel support of senior citizens is a top priority, but a surprising number do not feel their community is a good place for those who need help staying in their homes, according to a recent survey.

The survey, conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center and commissioned by Seniors Count, found that 96 percent of residents surveyed strongly agree that their community should support seniors, especially those who are most frail, so they can experience the highest possible quality of life. However, only 48 percent agree that Manchester is a good place for the least mobile seniors who need the most help remaining in their homes. Those statistics closely mirror statewide figures gathered as part of the survey measuring perceptions of community support of senior citizens.

“This survey reaffirms what we’ve known for a long time – New Hampshire places a very high value on the well being of seniors, but that there is still significant work to be done to ensure older people receive the support and services they need,” said Seniors Count Project Director Arlene Kershaw.  Seniors Count is a convener of partnerships that are a catalyst for community-based outreach and action to redefine and ensure independence for older people, and in doing so, create a better life for all.

According to the survey findings, the majority of Manchester residents (65%) agree their community is senior friendly for active seniors (as opposed to 76% of statewide respondents) while less than half (48% of Manchester respondents as opposed to 44% of statewide respondents) feel their community provides an adequate living situation for the most frail seniors.

“There seems to be a real divide when it comes to older citizens with an active lifestyle versus older citizens who need more assistance to remain independent,” said Patrick Tufts, President and CEO of Heritage United Way and chair of the Seniors Count Collaborating Council. “We’ve learned we need to do a much better job in addressing the very real needs of seniors who lack mobility but who wish to remain in their homes. This survey was a real eye opener in that regard.”

A total of 48% of Manchester residents (as opposed to 66% of statewide respondents) believe their community has the infrastructure to help seniors with modest needs.

“This survey provides us with an excellent overview of citizens’ perceptions about the state of aging in New Hampshire,” said Chief of the New Hampshire Bureau of Elderly and Adult Services Kathleen Tuttle. “Using this information as a roadmap, we can work to create an atmosphere where all seniors can not only survive, but thrive.”

According to Kershaw, Seniors Count is already making a different in the lives of frail seniors and is continuing to seek innovative ways to partner with different organizations to not only embrace and support seniors, but also address long-term system change.  The recent survey to ascertain how New Hampshire citizens feel about elder issues will help Seniors Count to evaluate its progress and adjust its path as needed to change the face of aging. 

“Despite the tremendous amount of work that has already been undertaken, and the hundreds of seniors that have been helped, much more needs to be done to ensure the Seniors Count way is an integral part of how the community approaches livability for all,” said Kershaw.  “We’re hoping that the survey will create consciousness and help to build community consensus around aging.”  

 

Contact:  Arlene Kershaw

Seniors Count Project Director

(603) 621-3558

akershaw@eastersealsnh.org