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Evaluation Considerations for Specific Aging in Place Issues

The unique elements of rural aging in place programs pose potential challenges for program evaluation. As a result, those starting a new program can learn from more experienced programs. Experienced programs can offer suggestions regarding potential evaluation pitfalls and opportunities. Still, evaluation practices for aging in place programs will likely differ from community to community, especially depending on the type of implemented program. Specific considerations for evaluating a rural aging in place program include:

  • Program flexibility: The levels of health and housing an older adult needs should be flexible and dependent upon his or her particular living arrangement and health status. For example, an older adult living in their own single-family home may have different needs and constraints than an older adult renting an apartment. Therefore, an evaluation of a rural aging in place program should include consideration of how well the program adapts its beneficiary's needs and environments.
  • Mixed generational growth: While aging in place programs are geared toward older adults, if done well, they will benefit the entire community. Designing a program that meets the needs of both young and old individuals and benefits all residents will help build a most sustainable program. This is especially important in rural areas, where different generational dynamics may be at work. Evaluation considerations should include:
    • Does the program help implement a community that is accessible and livable for all generations?
    • Do the program's transportation services benefit young and old individuals with their transportation needs?
    • Does the program facilitate intergenerational activities and opportunities for younger people to get involved?
  • Home environment evaluation: Any aging in place program will include attention to older adults' home environments. This is especially important in rural areas, where homes tend to be older and housing quality are bigger issues than in urban areas. It is important to evaluate whether a building can handle a remodeling process before implementing an aging in place program and to constantly monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of any modifications made to the home. Specific considerations might include:
    • Does the location of the home limit the possibility of isolation?
    • Is the home safe and designed in a way that will prevent falls?
    • Is there adequate lighting and enough room to maneuver a wheelchair?

Resources to Learn More

Aging in Place: A Toolkit for Local Governments
Designed to help local governments plan and prepare for an aging population. It also offers recommendations on how a community can address components that are essential to an aging in place program.
Author(s): Ball, M.S.
Organization(s): Community Housing Resource Center