Indicators for Successful and Sustainable Aging in Place: 1/17/12-12/31/12


Project Description

Screen-shot-2012-02-21-at-10.42.53-AM1-237x300The Stanford Center on Longevity and the University of Michigan, School of Social Work will develop a practical and easy to use indicator system to measure the ability of a community to enable sustainable aging in place. We are defining aging in place as the ability of individuals to remain in their own home and community if they choose to do, in spite of potential changes in later life. Particular attention will be paid to the indicators most relevant to older adults who are vulnerable to relocation, including those who are frail, experiencing declines in health and physical functioning, or have limited financial resources.

The goals for this project are: first, to research and identify the consensus among experts about which are the most important strategies for successful aging in place and second, to select or develop indicators to measure progress toward these strategies. The project will evaluate the efficacy of indicators, then integrate and simplify them for national application. Careful attention will be paid to the sustainability of these indicators and their adaptability over time.

The project team will first determine, through research and literature review, what are the most promising strategies for communities to positively affect aging in place. This work will include analyzing and defining strategies that already have been identified by indicator experts, interviewing those experts to assess which sets of indicators are most relevant to aging in place. This work will also mean identifying gaps that might exist.

Second, the research team will develop the indicators or measures that can help stakeholders, particularly local government officials and service providers, assess progress toward these strategies. It will be critical that these indicators are determined from data available to communities, so that they are practical and can be readily adopted.

The research team will next complete a white paper that outlines the indicator system, describing the ways in which the system is most critical in measuring aging in place. The central goal will be to develop an indicator system that is scalable, affordable, adaptable and sustainable – one that can be used in communities across the country.

Criteria for determining the specific community-level aging in place indicators include:

  • Empirical evidence (including an evaluation of the existing research’s strengths and limitations)
  • The potential for multiple benefits (e.g., for individuals of a variety of ages and from different socio-demographic backgrounds)
  • The indicator is measurable
  • The measure is easily obtainable (e.g., from existing Census or administrative data)

Project Team Members

The University of Michigan, School of Social Work will collaborate with the Stanford Center on Longevity for this project. The University of Michigan, School of Social Work will be responsible for completing the tasks as outlined below. The Stanford Center on Longevity will donate time to provide leadership and advice throughout the project. The University of Michigan, School of Social Work and the Stanford Center on Longevity will communicate via periodic conference calls and meet regularly over the course of the project.

University of Michigan members:

  • Amanda Lehning, Postdoctoral Fellow, will be responsible for completing the project
  • A Research Assistant, will assist in the literature review and interviews with experts

Stanford Center on Longevity members:

  • Margaret Dyer Chamberlain, Jane Hickie and Adele Hayutin will provide guidance on the project. They will also facilitate access to some aging in place experts.
  • Pamela Matson, Dean of the Stanford School of Earth Sciences and faculty member in the Woods Institute for the Environment, is the faculty collaborator.