2016 Annual Report: How Neighborhoods Affect Health, Well-Being Of Older Persons
A 2016 Annual Report by the Population Reference Bureau shows that most Americans say they want to age in place in their own communities, but their health and ability to remain independent is shaped in part by their neighborhoods.
According to PRB the social, economic, demographic, and physical characteristics of communities may influence older residents’ health and well-being.
“Neighborhood characteristics affect people of all ages, but older adults—classified here as adults over age 50—may be affected more than other groups. Older people typically experience higher levels of exposure to neighborhood conditions, often having spent decades in their communities. ”
They have more physical and mental health vulnerabilities compared with younger adults, and are more likely to rely on community resources as a source of social support.
As older adults become less mobile, their effective neighborhoods may shrink over time to include only the immediate areas near their homes (Glass and Balfour 2003).
This report summarizes recent research conducted by National Institute on Aging-supported researchers and others who have studied the association between neighborhood characteristics and the health and well-being of older adults. This research can inform policy decisions about community resource allocation and development planning.
A growing body of research shows that living in disadvantaged neighborhoods—characterized by high poverty—is associated with weak social ties, problems accessing health care and other services, reduced physical activity, health problems, mobility limitations, and high stress.
This area of research is challenging because lower-income people tend to live in disadvantaged neighborhoods and many detrimental neighborhood features cluster together.
Disadvantaged neighborhoods often have more crime, more pollution, poorer infrastructure, and fewer health care resources—making it difficult to pinpoint which neighborhood feature is responsible for particular health outcomes.
Population Reference Bureau