Age Friendly Raymond survey cites senior needs

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RAYMOND — Older people in Raymond are in need of better public transportation, communication and information, according to surveys filled out last summer and recently analyzed by Saint Joseph’s College students. 

The results of the analysis were presented Monday by Saint Joseph’s instructor John Kenneally at a meeting for Age Friendly Raymond. 

Age Friendly Raymond, which was founded two years ago, aims to create an age-friendly community by addressing issues such as livability involving outdoor spaces and buildings, transportation, respect and social inclusion.

The group conducted a survey of residents who were over 20 years old last summer in order to gather more information about what problems were most pressing and important for Raymond’s older people. Participants submitted some personal demographic information and filled in bubbles to indicate how much they agreed with certain statements. They also indicated which services were most important to them. 

“There’s so much we could do, we have to pick projects that make sense and that we can have achievable results with,” said Laurie Wallace, co-chair of Age Friendly Raymond’s steering committee. 

The survey received 293 responses, or about 7.5% of Raymond’s population over 20. Sixty-four percent of participants were female, 26% were male and 10% did not disclose their gender. 

After gathering the results, the group partnered with 32 of Kenneally’s students, who analyzed the data. 

“To have students do some hands on marketing research and analysis is just a spectacular opportunity,” Kenneally said. 

At his presentation April 15, Kenneally explained that his students conducted a mixture of quantitative and qualitative analysis and focused mainly on AARP’s eight domains of livability, which include outdoor spaces and buildings, transportation, housing, social participation, respect and social inclusion, civic participation and employment, communication and information and community and health services. 

Some domains seemed to be met in Raymond. For instance, outdoor spaces and buildings “was a real area of strength that was found among respondents in the survey. It was probably the strongest area. The library was noted specifically by a number of people,” Kenneally said. 

Participants also felt very strongly that Raymond is a safe community. 

However, other areas did not garner such positive results. 

“Transportation was probably the greatest weakness that was perceived. People don’t feel like there’s adequate public transportation in the area,” Kenneally said. 

Communication and information was also a weakness because participants were unsure where they could find information. 

In an open-ended response section, participants mentioned a variety of topics, including praise for school buildings, the need for a community center and concern about tax rates. 

Although most participants agreed that the home in which they currently live would be suitable for them as they age, “people were talking about the challenge of aging in place, and there was concern about tax rates. They may not be able to stay in their homes despite their homes being suitable for them during their aging years,” Kenneally said. 

Participants were also concerned about a lack of social and recreational events and having in-home assistance support options. 

While Raymond’s strengths include its safety and public buildings, such as the library, Kenneally said some threats include high taxes and the inability of residents to age in place. 

Wallace is pleased to have a clear direction forward for Age Friendly Raymond. The group has been offering public presentations on various issues, including fire and rescue safety, Meals on Wheels and medications. Now, however, they have a clear direction for the future. 

“Everyone realizes that we need to do something. The momentum has been building towards the results,” Wallace said. 

Kenneally’s students will also present their results to the Raymond Selectboard April 23. 

Jane Vaughan can be reached at 780-9103 or at jvaughan@keepmecurrent.com. 

Saint Joseph’s instructor John Kenneally presents analyses his students conducted this term. 

Attendees at the Age Friendly Raymond meeting listen to John Kenneally’s explanation of the data.