Funding shortages, transportation (including inadequate transportation options) and housing (including access to affordable and suitable housing) were the biggest challenges cited by local officials in meeting the needs of older adults.
In the 2005 survey, housing, financial programs and health care services were identified as the biggest obstacles.
Predictably, communities with larger populations were more likely to provide a greater variety of elder services than those in rural areas, the survey said.
Some progress reported
On the bright side, many localities reported progress since 2005 in certain areas. Among them:
- More than half (59 percent) of communities surveyed offer specialized training for public safety and emergency staff in dealing with older adults in natural and man-made disasters, up from 24 percent in 2005.
- The number of localities that provide in-home support services for older adults grew from 71 percent in 2005 to 77 percent in 2010.
- About half (52 percent) of local governments surveyed offer educational enrichment programs for older adults, including courses that refresh workforce skills, up from 45 percent in 2005.
But as communities with budget shortfalls continue to feel the pain of the recession, so do many of their residents. The number of local governments offering property tax relief for older adults on limited incomes dropped to 54 percent last year, down from 72 percent in 2005.
Programs to educate older adults about financial fraud and predatory lending also declined; 65 percent of communities offer them, down from 69 percent five years ago.
Carole Fleck is a senior editor at the AARP Bulletin.