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Strengthening Health in Mixed-Age Housing Communities

JHHSA, Vol. 43 No. 2, 218-234 (2020)

The aim of this article is to present the findings of a secondary analysis of quantitative data collected from a public housing community composed of older and disabled adults (n=100) ages 18-92 (Study 1 -2011) and relate these findings to a subsequent qualitative study (Study 2 -2015) completed in the same community. Both study samples included community residents who resided in three high rise buildings situated in one square block in a metropolitan setting. Both older and younger residents’ concerns, including perceived health, psychological and social needs were analyzed using Bronfenbrenner’s social ecology framework. Community residents were predominately African-American with 77% over 50 years of age. Most study measures identified little difference between the older and younger groups. Key physical, social and environment challenges identified included: chronic medical conditions, abuse and safety, psychological distress, and social isolation. A subsequent qualitative study was conducted with older women (50+) within the same community (2015). The qualitative study focused on the life course experiences of women (n = 25) who were survivors of interpersonal trauma. All groups in both the quantitative secondary data analysis and the qualitative study reported low functioning in health and mental health. They also reported social isolation and safety concerns. Identifying the health and well-being related needs of individual housing communities and examining experiences and perceptions of residents should become a priority in designing community interventions to reduce health disparities and improve health and quality of life for members of vulnerable populations. Entities and providers focused on this population should carefully examine how environmental influences such as social isolation and safety concerns impact chronic physical and mental health outcomes.

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