Community Connections and Sense of Community among Older Adults
Brossoie, Nancy Elizabeth
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Many older adults are electing to age in place within their communities. Even though they may be frequent consumers of community programs and services, their role as contributors to community well-being should not be overlooked. Sense of community is a core dimension of well-being because the connections associated with sense of community are important for everyday life. The model in this study was developed to explore the effects of community connections (community capacity, ease of making connections, active participation in the community, and informal supports) and demographic variables on sense of community. A probability sample of 1,499 adults 65 years and older that resided in rural areas responded to questions concerning their sense of community and community connections. Using multiple regression analysis, results indicate that community capacity, ease of connecting with others in the community, and having an informal support network are significant in predicting sense of community. Nonsignificant associations were found with regard to participation in community activities, age, sex, health status, and length of time living in the county. These findings suggest that key dimensions of aging (age, sex, health status) are less relevant when addressing sense of community when compared to associations and connections. Factors that predict sense of community may be amenable to community-level interventions, thus allowing for the development of sense of community among community members, which could ultimately lead to their participation as community resources.
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