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AdvantAge Initiative Survey Background

The AdvantAge Initiative strategy of using consumer-derived data to inform community planning and action requires surveying the 65+ population to learn about their experiences in and perceptions of their communities.

AdvantAge Initiative Survey Methodology

The AdvantAge Initiative team contracted with Westat, a survey research firm, to conduct a random-sample 30-minute telephone survey of adults age 65 and over in the ten AdvantAge Initiative communities and oversample people age 85 and over. Statistically valid samples of individuals were drawn from Medicare enrollment lists of elders, which capture approximately 98% of the age 65+ population in the U.S. The names and addresses of the individuals were matched with telephone numbers, and each potential respondent received two mailings describing the purpose of the survey and assuring them of confidentiality. Potential respondents were also given a toll free number to call if they had additional questions about the survey process.

The questionnaire was designed specifically for the project and was used in each of the ten community surveys. Survey questions correspond to the AdvantAge Initiative’s framework of an elder friendly community and 33 indicators. Each of the ten communities also had the opportunity to add 5 questions to the questionnaire that are specific to the community.

Over 5,100 people in the ten communities completed the survey interviews. The AdvantAge Initiative team has analyzed the results and presented them to the communities in the form of the 33 indicators developed for this project.

AdvantAge Initiative Framework and Indicators

Early in the project, the AdvantAge Initiative, with the help of Cogent Research, conducted focus groups with older people and community leaders in various parts of the country. Focus group participants were encouraged to critique their own communities and describe an ideal community for "aging in place." Regardless of where participants lived, their responses were similar. People said they wished to remain active and engaged in community life. To them, that means maintaining independence, avoiding isolation, and not becoming a burden to others.

Focus group responses were then synthesized into a framework that defines the components of an "elder-friendly" community. These components were organized into four broad categories (or “domains”) that would help us describe and assess how elder friendly a given community is. Thus, an elder friendly community is one that:

Addresses Basic Needs
Optimizes Physical Health and Well-Being
Maximizes Independence for the Frail and Disabled
Promotes Social and Civic Engagement

Each of the four domains is divided into a number of dimensions that describe the domain in more detail. And these domains and dimensions are reflected in the 33 indicators that communities can use to measure how well they are meeting the needs and nurturing the aspirations of their older residents. The AdvantAge Initiative survey data provide values for these indicators.

See sample data model

The AdvantAge Initiative 2003 National Survey of Adults Aged 65 and Older

Reports:

A Tale of Two Older Americas: Community Opportunities and Challenges

Indicator Chartbook: National Survey of Adults Aged 65 and Older

Fact Sheets:

The Great Information Divide: Where Do Older Adults Turn for Help?
Housing Cost Burden Casts a Shadow Over Older People’s Future
Staying Healthy, Living Longer: Gaps in Preventive Care Among Older Adults
When Older Adults Are Involved in the Community, the Benefits are Mutual