Our Aging Journey — Our Homes

What the Community Survey Data Says about Our Homes                           

Last month, I began reporting out on the results of the community survey in which many of you participated conducted by the grassroots all volunteer group, Age-Friendly Communities of the Lower Kennebec. (Communities include Arrowsic, Bath, Georgetown, Phippsburg, West Bath and Woolwich).  Focused on helping our region become more “livable for a lifetime”, our initial analysis shows the survey data from our 1,000 respondents clustering around three themes:   1) Our Homes, 2) Our Mobility, and 3) Our Social Connections.  

To give background: we heard the most from residents of Bath, Woolwich and Arrowsic; and less from the other 3 communities.  Two thirds of the people who responded were over 60, though we also got feedback from younger residents caring for an older relative or friend.  Many people surveyed spoke of our region’s strengths – 80% had family or friends nearby who they could ask for help which is great news!  People also really appreciated the beauty of this region and its feeling of safety, which drew many of us here.  One surprise was how much people enjoyed living in neighborhoods with younger people and children around; and did not find age-segregated housing as appealing.   Interacting with people of all ages was described as important by 78% of those surveyed, yet only 23% felt it was happening consistently.

To dive a little more deeply into some of the data revolving around “Our Homes” – a key finding was that the homes** people are living in may not fit their future.  (**Homes refers to all types of places people live – condos, houses, apartments, etc.)  When we asked “will you need to modify your home to continue living there?”  60% said yes.   And it sounds like information is lacking, but would be very helpful – 82% said that a resource list of home repair and chore resources was important to them.  At the same time 19% did not have family or friends who could offer help.  Across the whole group, about one third said they or their partner had a disability – which could further affect their ability to modify a home for aging in place. About 20% expected to have to move out of the area but rest expected to stay in this region. 

Given our Maine winters, we also asked “Is your home warm enough?” and 84% said yes; but that left 16% not feeling warm enough.  When asked why, weatherization/insulation/old windows were the culprits for 62% of this group and difficulty paying for fuel impacted another 45%.  We also heard from people looking for more choices in housing, at a variety of price points including the middle class, and in smaller one-level living configurations.  

Overall, we learned that 3 out of 5 respondents expect to modify their homes in order to stay; and that people need both information about resources to stay in their home, as well as more choices.   Later this year, the Age Friendly Communities of the Lower Kennebec plans to publish a report on the full survey results and do an asset inventory of resources that exist here.    You are welcome to join us as we start planning and working on some of the opportunities that this information offers to make our communities more livable!