Stoneham, Massachusetts, needs assessment, older residents
Tucked between two major highways, about nine miles from Boston, the Town of Stoneham is currently home to more than 22, 000 residents, 27% of which are age 60 and older. According to projections created by the Donahue Institute at the University of Massachusetts, a trend toward an older population in Stoneham is expected in future decades. Donahue Institute vintage projections suggest that by 2035, more than one out of each three Stoneham’s residents will be age 60 or older—28% of the town’s population will be between the ages of 60 and 79, with an additional 10% age 80 and older (see Appendix A). Occupying just about 6 square miles, this densely populated community is rich in resources for livability. Aside from proximity and transportation to a major metropolitan city with world-class healthcare and education, Stoneham is home to idyllic New England features (a Town common, the Stone Zoo, the Stoneham Theatre on Main Street, and a daily “Nine O’Clock Horn”1) as well as a plethora of shopping, healthcare, and dining opportunities within the Town limits. Some could argue that Stoneham “has it all”.
The Town of Stoneham and the Stoneham Senior Center have led the commitment to becoming a more age friendly community and in 2018, the Town was accepted into the WHO’s global network of age-friendly cities and communities. The significance of this event is that the Town was willing to identify the strengths of Stoneham as a community to grow up and grow old in, but also to acknowledge where there is room for improvement. In January 2020, the Council on Aging invited collaboration from the Center for Social & Demographic Research on Aging (CSDRA) in the Gerontology Institute at the University of Massachusetts Boston to initiate a needs assessment and explore the age-friendly community framework, as outlined by the World Health Organization. The purpose of this report is to document results from the needs assessment and lay forth recommendations as to how Stoneham can take action to advance their goals of becoming a more age friendly community. The project was planned to be completed during the Spring of 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic caused these plans to change. In order to accommodate public health recommendations and capacity of the Town’s leadership, the scope of this project was adjusted. Specifically, 2 community forums, initially scheduled to be conducted in-person in March and April 2020, were forced to be moved to a virtual format as were the facilitation of 3 focus groups. The purpose of this report is to share highlights from these components of the needs assessment and to provide a foundation for future input from the community and future age friendly planning efforts.
Part of the UMass Boston Community-Engaged Teaching, Research, and Service Series. //scholarworks.umb.edu/engage
Coyle, Caitlin and Krebs, Mary, "Envisioning an Age Friendly Stoneham" (2020). Center for Social and Demographic Research on Aging Publications. 86.