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AARP Chapter Leaders Focus on Cedar Rapids’ Future

Recognizing that Linn County’s growing population is aging and creating unique challenges and opportunities, local AARP Cedar Rapids Chapter leaders joined with community organizations to launch a Livable Community Project, an effort that’s garnering the attention of community leaders, developers and local, regional and state officials.

The all-volunteer Chapter project polled 3,000 Linn County residents age 50-plus about issues such as health, housing, transportation and leisure and is using the data to help make the community more livable.

“We have been extremely pleased and gratified at the overwhelmingly positive response this project has received each time we’ve presented the information,” said Chapter President Beverly Johnson, who along with Chapter board members Ron Rath and Judy Fries have been presenting their findings to area groups.

“Our chapter took this on to help community leaders see where there are opportunities and challenges for Linn County to become as desirable a place as possible for 50+ residents and their families,” said Johnson. “We had a wonderful group of dedicated chapter members, along with a great team of Linn County professionals in health and aging, the faith community, and city, county and state offices who all played important roles in nurturing this project along. We appreciate everyone’s involvement, and look forward to seeing where we can take this project next.”

One key survey finding is that while more than three quarters of survey respondents agree Linn County has enough doctors and hospitals to serve older residents, fewer (64 percent) think there are enough services to allow residents to age in their own homes or in affordable long-term care facilities.

“These findings will help local leaders and health professionals know which issues are most important to Linn County residents to better align the services with the needs," said Ben Rogers, chairman of the Linn County Board of Supervisors.

From June to July 2009, surveys were sent to 3,000 Linn County residents age 50 plus to assess their health and wellness, housing, transportation, and leisure and recreation resources and needs. The focus of the surveys was to examine, among other things, if residents are award of services in their community for older residents, how they use transportation options and if they utilize community resources.

Survey recipients were selected randomly from county voter registration rolls. The sample was then randomly divided into four groups, with residents in each group receiving one survey on one of the four areas: health and wellness, transportation, housing or leisure and recreation. 916 surveys were returned for an overall response rate of 31 percent, and a plus or minus error rate of 3.2 percent.

AARP’s Office of Research and Strategic Analysis tabulated findings of the four surveys and prepared reports on each issue area for the Linn County Livable Community Project Team. Copies of the survey reports and presentation are available from the AARP Cedar Rapids Chapter and are available through the AARP Office of Research and Strategic Analysis online.

Watch interviews with Cedar Rapids Chapter leaders and the Heritage Area Agency on Aging’s Involvement video magazine.

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