Research is needed to better understand the prevalence, barriers and incentives to affordable senior housing community residents’ participation (or lack of) in community programming, activities and events. Such information will be essential in guiding the design of policies and programs focused on utilizing housing as a platform to improve health and quality of life among older adults. Specific research to address these needs could include collection of survey data among a representative sample of affordable senior housing community residents and staff. Data are needed on the availability and range of health-focused programming within the community and frequency and likelihood of resident participation. This research will lead to a better understanding of factors (e.g., barriers and incentives) related to resident participation at multiple levels (e.g., environmental, interpersonal, and individual). Overall, the goal of this research would be to determine if resident participation is driven by availability of programming, barriers and incentives to participation, or a combination of both. Findings would also help inform policy makers on how to increase resident participation.
Intervention studies are needed focused on developing, implementing, and evaluating innovative approaches to increasing resident participation in on-site programming, activities and events. For example, social networks have strong effects on behaviors, but little research has been conducted to translate interpersonal ties into effective interventions to promote engagement in positive health-related behaviors. Communities such as affordable senior housing communities would be ideal for such interventions where residents live in close proximity with one another and share multiple common spaces. Another possibility is intervention studies focused on leveraging local resources to enhance the health and quality of life among affordable senior housing residents. For example, studies focused on developing strong linkages and collaboration with nearby exercise facilities, high schools, community colleges and universities. These intervention examples are geared toward promoting supportive environments both within senior housing communities and beyond through integration with the larger local community.
Respectfully submitted by: Noah Webster & Toni Antonucci, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan