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AARP Research

Working Toward an Age Friendly Community: An AARP Livable Communities Survey of Greater Des Moines/Polk County, Iowa Residents Ages 50+

The AARP Iowa State Office commissioned a survey to explore the views of Des Moines/Polk County residents age 50+ on characteristics of an age friendly neighborhood.  

Key findings include:

  • Des Moines/Polk County residents age 50+ have lived in this area for a long time and are likely to remain there as they get older.  In fact, they have lived in this area for an average of 41 years; and 69% say they are not too or not at all likely to move outside their community in the next 10 years.
  • Des Moines/Polk County residents age 50+ were asked to give their opinions of their neighborhoods based on housing, transportation, outdoor spaces, public services, older adult resources and services and social activities
    • Housing:  Respondents agree people in their neighborhood take care of their homes and property and home repair contractors do quality work and are trustworthy.
    • Transportation:  Respondents agree their neighborhood has easy to read traffic signs, well-maintained streets, sufficient public parking and speed limits are enforced.
    • Outdoor spaces:  Respondents agree there are enough public parks and that public parks and buildings are well-maintained.
    • Public/Private Services:  Respondents say their neighborhood has elementary and secondary schools and many also say there is a fire department and a public library.
    • Older adult resources and services:  Respondents say their neighborhood has seasonal lawn or snow removal and nursing homes and retirement communities.
    • Social activities:  Respondents say there are places of worship in their neighborhood as well as pharmacies and grocery stores.
  • Des Moines/Polk County residents age 50+ say local TV affiliates are the most helpful source for news and information in their neighborhood followed by public television, newspapers and radio.
  • Many Des Moines/Polk County residents age 50+ are currently working and plan to keep on working as long as possible.  In fact, 45% are employed either full or part-time, and 45% of these survey respondents are extremely or very likely to put off full-time retirement for as long as possible. 

These results are based on a mail survey fielded in September 2012 of 3,500 residents. AARP purchased a sample from SSI, Inc. of household addresses in Greater Des Moines/Polk County, Iowa where at the age of head of household is 50 years or older. For more information, contact Joanne Binette at 202-434-6303.


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Rebecca Gillian

AARP Research's Senior Vice President Becky Gillan blogs about recent AARP research and her experiences as a member of the 50+. Read

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