AFS Community Report Findings: Respect & Social Inclusion
Age-Friendly Sarasota recently completed an assessment of nearly 1,200 Sarasota County residents’ aspirations regarding community features across eight domains of livability.
We know that community attitudes that demonstrate respect of aging persons and recognize the important role that older adults play in society are critical factors for an age-friendly community. #Agefriendly communities foster positive images of aging and intergenerational understanding to challenge negative attitudes. Because we live in a culture that has stigmatized aging, we have internalized these negative perceptions. We can counter this stigma by demonstrating respect and social inclusion.
According to the Age-Friendly Sarasota Community Report:
Sarasota County residents report that respectful healthcare staff, well-maintained and accessible public facilities, trustworthy and affordable home care contractors, and activities that involve younger and older people are important features that demonstrate respect and social inclusion.
- Boomers place more importance than non-Boomer Elders on all respect and social inclusion features with the greatest differences on the range of flexible job opportunities (64% vs. 33%), feeling their voice is heard (83% vs. 74%), and activities that involve younger and older people (90% vs. 81%).
There is variability among Sarasota County residents regarding the presence of respect and social inclusion features.
- Boomers report less existence of many respect features including trustworthy home contractors, decision-making opportunities, feeling that their voice is heard.
- The greatest difference between Boomers and non-Boomer Elders pertains to interactions with healthcare staff (68% vs. 78%).
- Nearly two out of ten to well over half of all residents are uncertain about the presence of respectful and socially inclusive features with the greatest uncertainty noted on flexible job opportunities (51% - 60%) and feeling their voice is heard in the community (43% - 48%).
Sarasota County residents report varied experiences pertaining to respectful interactions among persons, groups, and sectors throughout the community.
- While some residents report very positive encounters with staff at businesses, many recount stories that they perceive as disrespectful with service and healthcare providers.
- Residents particularly appreciated professionals and staff who expressed empathy regarding dementia and sensory changes with aging. Many reported that “sensitivity” training does enhance understanding.
- In addition to disrespectful interactions, the lack of facilities/ disregard of persons needing a family or handicapped bathroom was also cited.
- Among business practices, senior discounts were appreciated for those on a “fixed income” while “fast-pitched” sales and marketing was viewed as exploitative.
- Discrimination in employment was also noted.
- Although some persons reported feeling “invisible” and judged by their broader appearance, many persons shared that compared to other communities; Sarasota is “kinder” to the aging community.
- Many people held stereotypically negative views about older drivers.
- Residents indicated the importance of intergenerational relations, though there were many concerns about youth including disrespect, incivility, and fear.