As we age, it is important to explore new ways communities can respond, taking the preferences and needs of older adults and caregivers into account to achieve a community that supports people aging independently. The Patterson Foundation worked with SCOPE in partnership with USF Sarasota-Manatee to start this conversation and share insights.
The Patterson Foundation strengthened this work by facilitating collaborative projects involving groups throughout the Sarasota, Florida, community. Researchers produced a manuscript that was published in Ageing & Society, an international journal. Project partners also shared insights and data with local community agencies, which are taking steps to address the needs of Sarasota’s older adults based on the initiative findings.
Why did The Patterson Foundation support this initiative?
Dorothy Clarke Patterson had rheumatoid arthritis and dementia — yet she aged with dignity and independence. This was possible because of a strong support system. For Mrs. Patterson, living with dignity and independence was realized by being able to make decisions for herself and age in her own home.
What is meant by “aging with dignity and independence”?
The meanings are inherently subjective. There are multiple interpretations of the term "dignity" and the concepts of dignity and independence are often intertwined. Research suggests that the concept of dignity pertains to the domains of identity (self-respect, esteem, and trust), human rights (equality and choice) and autonomy, of which independence is a part.
SCOPE, in partnership with the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, conducted focus groups and collected survey responses in order to better understand how people experience these concepts. SCOPE also facilitated community forums to learn the perceptions and observations of individuals who interact with older adults.
What were the objectives of this initiative?
Dignity and independence are important concepts for all people. Living with dignity and independence is impacted by the broader network in which people live. This network includes formal support systems systems (such as healthcare providers, home maintenance, food providers, and legal assistance) and informal support systems (such as friends, neighbors, and social groups).
The Aging with Dignity and Independence initiative focused on understanding the local experience of older adults to enhance aging with dignity and independence within the context of a community and social relationships.
Who worked on this initiative?
The Patterson Foundation worked with SCOPE and USF Sarasota-Manatee. SCOPE and USF Sarasota-Manatee conducted the research, combining the art of SCOPE's civic engagement with the rigors of the university's scientific approach. A community advisory committee of key community providers, volunteers, experts, and stakeholders in aging provided direction during the first year of research, discovery, and analysis.
Was the work local, national or international in focus?
Though uniquely focused on our own Sarasota County community, implications of the project might be relevant to other communities throughout the United States that are also searching to improve the lives of their burgeoning populations of older adults. The project's unique community-based approach provides an example of "processes" for other cities and townships that can be replicated throughout the nation.
Who can I contact about the Aging with Dignity and Independence initiative?
For more information about this past initiative, contact Carol Lipp in initiative support: firstname.lastname@example.org.