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Title:The Aging in a Central Illinois Community
Author(s):Phillips, Bernard S.
Elderly residents
Abstract:An interview-survey was conducted within the city limits of Decatur, illinois, of a probability sample of persons aged 60 or older. Interviews were obtained from 346 individuals and questionnaire data were collected from the family physicians of a majority of respondents. The city of Decatur is located in central illinois. It serves the surrounding agricultural area and has both light and heavy industry. The 1960 population was 78,000, with an aged population of 12,300. These figures were projected to 1980, yielding estimates of from 17,200 to 18,400 persons 60 or over at that date. Housing "needs", as defined in terms of gaps between desires and ratings of the present housing situation, included in descending order of importance: no stairs, low noise level, ease of housecleaning and maintenance, low payments, well-maintained neighborhoods, large amounts of storage space, and pleasant-appearing exteriors. There was a current basic requirement for slightly over 3, 000 housing units in the group able to afford housing without subsidy (income over $80 per month) but only 12% or 375 would find special housing units for the elderly more attractive than their present housing. A conservative appraisal indicates a market for about 250 units, ranging from efficiency or one-bedroom units through more elaborate units for the higher income brackets. One-sixth of the sample indicated that they were in poor health, half had one or more chronic illnesses, half were not able to do heavy work around the house, and one-tenth had moderate blunting of mental acuity or definite senility. Most were satisfied with their physicians and with hospital facilities, but many had a poor opinion of the nursing homes. Few were familiar with the health services offered by organizations in Decatur. Medical costs were a heavy burden to a minority, but few asked help from community sources. Dental care was the most common service curtailed for financial reasons. Over two-thirds had some health insurance, and cost and inability to qualify were the major reasons for not having insurance. Over half of the respondents had periodic medical checkups, and those who didn't generally did not know of any health reasons for doing so. Adequate communication between physician and patient is a factor affecting many aspects of the physician-patient relationship. In the area of activities, there is generally limited awareness of present recreational and educational facilities and activities. The great majority of older individuals have substantial periods of free time, yet more than half do not belong to any clubs or organizations. Lack of or inability to use present transportation facilities was a major problem blocking use of recreational facilities. About 12% lack transportation and 29% were unable to travel readily. There seems to be a general decline in contact with family and friends with increasing age. Major gaps between occupational goals and present degree of fulfillment of these goals were demonstrated for retired individuals. The greatest gaps have to do with income, opportunities to make use of abilities and skills, and the feeling of doing useful things. One-third of the retired would be interested in part-time work if it was available. About two-thirds of the respondents presently attend religious services at least once a month, as compared to three-fourths who attended that often at age 50. Lack of or inability to use present transportation facilities seems to be the major factor in this decline. Nearly 90% of the respondents claimed to have voted in the 1960 presidential election. According to the respondents , their present degree of political interest is greater than at age 50. Health and relationships with family and f:r:iends were the most important areas of life for the sample, with housing, employmenf; and recreation following in that order. Generally, they disapproved of the situation of the aged, and there was a widespread tendency to identify themselves as middle-aged or younger than their actual age. That group was better-adjusted than those who felt as old or older than their actual age. Physical health was the major factor affecting how old the respondent felt; other factors were employment status, behavior of family and friends, and chronological age.
Issue Date:1962
Publisher:Small Homes Council - University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Series/Report:Research Report 62-4
Genre:Technical Report
Sponsor:City of Decatur
Rights Information:Copyright 1962 Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-09-23

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