AFS Blog

AFS Community Report Findings: Social Participation

Posted on February 06, 2017 | by Kathy Black
AFS Community Report Findings: Social Participation

Age-Friendly Sarasota recently completed an assessment of nearly 1,200 Sarasota County residents’ aspirations regarding community features across eight domains of livability. Findings were analyzed by age groups including Boomers (age 50-69 at the time of the study) and non-Boomer Elders (age 70+). This blog series will review key highlights from each of the domains. Further information about the AFS Community Report and more details about the findings can be found at www.AgeFriendlySarasota.org.

We know that interacting with family and friends is an important part of positive mental health and for many, the reason for living. Social participation involves both interacting with others as well as the extent to which our community makes such interaction possible. While many of us lead very active social lives, as a community, we want to be sure to enhance social participation via a wide variety of activities for people of all abilities and financial circumstances.

According to the Age-Friendly Sarasota Community Report:

The majority of Sarasota County residents say that widely publicized and affordable activities, conveniently located entertainment venues, and activities that involve younger and older persons as well as diverse interests are important community features.

  • More than three-quarters of all Sarasota County residents rate a variety of cultural activities, senior discounts, continuing education classes, and activities specifically geared to older adults as important (75% - 88%).
  • All activities are rated more important to Boomers compared to Non-Boomer Elders with the exception of activities geared for older adults (rated the same at 79%).


There is variability regarding whether or not the most important social activities exist in the community.

  • While more than three-fourths of all Sarasota County residents report that continuing education classes and conveniently located entertainment venues are present in the community (76% - 78%), affordable social activities and school events are less available despite the importance of these features (35% - 49%).
  • Compared to Boomers, non-Boomer Elders report a differential presence to many features including less awareness of senior discounts (70% vs. 61%), greater awareness of activities geared toward aging (63% vs. 72%), a wide variety of activities (59% vs. 68%), and more widely-publicized activities (59% vs. 68%).

Sarasota County residents report a wide variety of activities – across an eclectic range of areas and interests, though efforts to support participation and accessibility are desired.

  • The majority of residents overwhelmingly appreciate the vast array of social activities available throughout the community.
  • Residents greatly appreciate activities that boost holistic health and wellbeing such as the numerous educational offerings, fitness options, cultural and arts events, outdoor sports, church services, and particularly, the affordable amenities available via various venues including the public libraries.
  • Despite the widespread availability of many social activities, many persons report that location, transportation, and costs limit participation.
  • Other factors impacting participation include personal reticence to join groups which is particularly resonant for single and divorced persons as well as newcomers to Sarasota.
  • Accommodating activities based on changing health status and caregiver needs were also identified.

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