Norwell, Massachusetts, needs assessment, older residents
This report describes research undertaken by the Center for Social & Demographic Research on Aging within the Gerontology Institute at the University of Massachusetts Boston, on behalf of the Norwell Council on Aging. The goals of this project were to investigate the needs, interests, preferences, and opinions of Norwell’s residents age 50 or older. The contents of this report are meant to inform the Town of Norwell, the Norwell Council on Aging and Senior Center, and organizations that work with and on behalf of older residents of Norwell for the purposes of planning and coordination of services. The report will also help to build awareness about issues facing Norwell among community members at large.
Already, estimates suggest that 35% of Norwell’s population is age 50 or older and this trend stands to continue. This results from a number of factors—that adults who have lived and made Norwell home want to continue living in the community with which they are familiar and near to their family and friends and perhaps residents who are moving to Norwell to be closer to adult children or grandchildren. Another contributing factor includes the out- migration of young people seeking employment, education, or lower costs of living elsewhere. Regardless of the reason, this central overarching observation—that the older population of Norwell is already large and will continue to expand—makes clear the importance of considering how well features of the Town, the services and amenities available, and virtually every aspect of the community align with the age demographic moving forward.
In preparing for this demographic shift, the Norwell Council on Aging and the Center for Social and Demographic Research on Aging at the University of Massachusetts Boston partnered to conduct a study to investigate the needs, interests, preferences, and opinions of the Town’s residents age 50 and older. As part of this assessment, we conducted interviews and focus groups to hear from Norwell leadership, key stakeholders in the community, and a diverse group of residents. In addition, a survey was developed and administered to year- round Norwell residents age 50 and older. A total of 1,081 questionnaires were returned, reflecting a strong return rate of 25%. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau and other sources were examined in support of the project aims.
A broad range of findings are reported in this document, highlighting the many positive features of Norwell as well as concerns expressed by older residents. The COA plays an important leadership role in the community, serving as a resource to other Town offices and organizations working in the community, and collaborating on initiatives broadly beneficial to residents. The 2022 Needs Assessment process coincided with the Norwell Senior Center’s 40th birthday. Town leaders and residents gathered to celebrate the COA’s 40-year impact on the community and look forward to the future. The COA also launched their Dementia Friendly initiative in 2022, in response to planning needs related to the increasing prevalence of dementia, and other health challenges associated with aging. This needs assessment will inform the COA, and collaborative partners, in planning that builds upon the success of past efforts and continues to benefit the community of Norwell.
While many of our findings, and the recommendations that follow, intersect with the scope of responsibility of the Norwell Council on Aging, it is understood that responding to many needs and concerns expressed in the community will require the involvement of other municipal offices or community stakeholders, and some will require substantial collaborative effort.
Part of the UMass Boston Community-Engaged Teaching, Research, and Service Series. //scholarworks.umb.edu/engage
Coyle, Caitlin and Rouleau, Beth, "Aging in Norwell: A Community Needs Assessment" (2023). Center for Social and Demographic Research on Aging Publications. 75.