Assessment gives glimpse of senior citizen needs in Westborough


Assessment gives glimpse of senior citizen needs in Westborough
The Westborough Senior Center is located at 4 Rogers Road. The town recently released a senior needs assessment. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

WESTBOROUGH – The cost of housing.

The need for better transportation options, and better support for caregivers.

What kind of programs and services are offered by the Westborough Senior Center.

These were some of the key points found within the town’s senior needs assessment released earlier this month.

The town-commissioned report was compiled by a team at the Gerontology Institute at the University of Massachusetts-Boston.

The report, which is available on the town’s website, was presented to the Select Board during its May 9 meeting. Data was collected from focus groups and surveys mailed to residents.

Among the findings, when asked about preferences for type of housing, 41% of respondents aged 55-59 and nearly a third of respondents in their 60s would prefer to live in an apartment, condo or townhome. Among respondents in their 70s, 43% would choose a senior independent living community; assisted living is the most preferred housing type for the future, reported by those ages 80+.

Over half of the respondents 70 or older said they participated at the Senior Center. That number decreases to 24% for respondents in their 60s. 

Additionally, the report indicated that only 7% of respondents do not drive. However that number is larger when looking at people ages 80 and over; as 24% of this older segment of the population do not drive. Many residents who do drive modify their driving to make it easier or safer.

Nearly a third of the respondents said they have been a caregiver within the past five years. Further, three-quarters of the caregivers said it was challenging to provide care and complete their daily responsibilities, including 79% of those in their 60s.

The report also made several recommendations.

Among the recommendations, the report called for promoting awareness of various housing options across the lifespan and continuing to contribute to local conversations about housing options for older adults that want to find supportive housing.

It also recommended targeting information to communities that may need transportation services, including residents with disabilities or who live alone. The report also suggested the consideration of additional outreach for transportation when inclement weather is anticipated

It called for creating new ways to provide information and assistance – such as a resource fair for caregivers at the Senior Center – and a newcomers group at the center.

Representatives from the Gerontology Institute presented more details about the survey on Tuesday, May 16, at the senior center. The program is available on Westborough TV.

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