Survey aims to gauge unmet needs of seniors, caregivers

The Pinellas Community Foundation and the Area Agency on Aging of Pasco-Pinellas are working together to assess the unmet needs of seniors and their caregivers.

A survey—the Community Assessment Survey of Older Adults — will be sent to 10,000 randomly selected households across every Pinellas and Pasco zip code in which at least one resident is known to be aged 60 and over.

Anne Marie Winter

The survey will be sent the week of April 8. Residents will receive a postcard in advance, as well as instructions (in both English and Spanish) with the survey.

Data collection will continue through May 21. In addition to the mailed survey, two focus groups will be conducted in Pasco County – one in Dade City and one in New Port Richey.

“We’re really excited to be able to do this because it’s the first time ever that seniors will have a voice across both counties on what their needs are,” said Anne Marie Winter, executive director of Area Agency on Aging of Pasco-Pinellas.

“As far as we know, it’s (the survey) never been done at all in Central West Florida,” she said.

“We want to hear from the seniors. We don’t want to be the ones that decide what seniors need, based on what we think,” she said.

The postcard and letter are being sent to make sure that survey recipients “know that this is official, that it is going to be used for their best interest.

“We’re not going to try and sell them anything. We’re not going to try and use this information in anyway other than to identify what their needs are,” Winter said.

The questions being asked on the survey were selected by a steering committee made up of representatives from the Area Agency on Aging of Pasco-Pinellas; the cities of Clearwater, Dade City, New Port Richey and St. Petersburg; Pasco County Government; Pasco County Health Department; Pinellas Community Foundation; Pinellas County Health Department; and, Pinellas County Human Services.

The survey tool was developed by the National Research Center (NRC) and has been administered in other places around the country. Data returned from the survey of local residents will be benchmarked against other communities nationwide.

The survey covers numerous issues, including questions regarding access to food, transportation and affordable housing.

“Every zip code in both counties is going to be covered,” Winter said.

“We’re seeing changes in the demographic, in the population. What we need to see is ‘Do we need to do things differently?’ Do we need to invest our resources in different areas, based on those needs?

“Caregivers are getting younger and younger,” Winter added. “Our parents are aging, and we’re taking care of them more and more. The spouse used to be, and still is, the primary caregiver for their loved one. But, more and more, seniors are living longer and their children are taking care of them.

“How do we address the needs of those caregivers? Do we need more adult daycare programs, for respite, so you can drop off mom or dad when you go to work and they have a safe place where they will continue to be intellectually stimulated and provided with a good hot meal?” Winter said.

The survey is intended to yield information that will guide future efforts, Winter said.

“We want our future planning to be data driven, and we feel that this survey will be an important component in that,” she said.

Published April 10, 2019

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