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2009 Survey of Linn County Iowa Residents 50+ on Livable Communities Issues

In 2006 the Cedar Rapids Area AARP Chapter in conjunction with community partners launched the “Livable Community Project.”  As part of this project, four surveys were conducted to explore how Linn County residents age 50 plus looked at their health and wellness, housing, transportation issues, and leisure and recreation.  The focus of these mail surveys was to examine, among other things, if residents were aware of services in their community for older residents, how they used transportation options, and if they were utilizing community resources.

Key findings on “Health and Wellness” issues include:

  • Two-thirds (66%) of respondents in Linn County report that their health is good or very good, while an additional 14 percent say their health is excellent. 
  • People most commonly report needing help with shopping and running errands and light housework.
  • Sixteen percent say that a spouse is the most common caregiver.
  • A third of respondents say that in the last 12 months either they or someone in their household has provided unpaid care to a relative or friend 18 years or older to help them care for themselves. 
  • Half of respondents want to receive any needed long-term care services at home, from family and friends, home care aides, or a combination of both.
  • Respondents say they would turn to family and friends, their physician, and health and human services to learn about long-term care services in their community
  • When asked about resources in their community, health resources are at the top of the list for Linn County residents.  Specifically, they say access to hospitals, accessible information on health care, and a variety of in-home care services are the most important services needed in their community.

Key findings on “Transportation” issues include:

  • Respondents overwhelmingly say they drive themselves to get where they need to go.
  • Respondents also say that well designed and maintained streets and street lighting are very or extremely important to them as they drive in Linn County.  
  • Three-fourths (76%) say that their community is an excellent, very good, or good place for people approaching retirement age.
  • Fully 72 percent say they are extremely or very satisfied with their ability to get around Linn County. 
  • Six in ten or more respondents are also concerned with walking around Linn County.  They want crosswalks that are well-lighted and give them enough time to cross the street, sidewalks that go where they want to go, and clear curb markings and curb cuts. 

Key findings on “Housing” issues include:

  • Most respondents own their home, either with or without a mortgage.  Moreover, 66 percent of Linn County residents have called their community “home” for over 10 years.
  • More than two-thirds (68% ) say their current home is accessible to people with mobility issues, while 26% say it is not.
  • Major repairs such as replacing the roof or improving the heating and cooling in the home were most often reported as completed by respondents.
  • Linn County residents are much less sure if their community has a variety of services to help you maintain independence as you age (39%), affordable housing (39%), and housing for people with different physical abilities (52%).
  • Linn County respondents would turn to friends or family (54%) or an Area Agency on Aging (44%) for information on housing options. 

Key findings on “Leisure and Recreation” include:

  • Six in ten Linn County respondents say they are at least somewhat likely to take a class that interests them.
  • Almost two-thirds (65%) of respondents say they are aware of organizations in the county that provide older adults with volunteer opportunities. 
  • Respondents most commonly volunteer with a church, synagogue, or faith-based organization.
  • Almost eight in ten (79%) respondents say finding information about Linn County services, such as parks and libraries, would be at least somewhat easy. 

This survey was conducted between June and July of 2009, with 916 interviews completed among registered voters aged 50 and older.  For more information,  please contact Erica Dinger at 202-434- 6176.

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