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Journal of Aging Research
Volume 2012, Article ID 173247, 9 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/173247
Research Article

The Importance of Social Connectedness in Building Age-Friendly Communities

1Social Work Program, University of Washington Tacoma, Tacoma, WA 98401, USA
2Nursing Program, University of Washington Tacoma, Tacoma, WA 98401, USA

Received 11 May 2011; Revised 13 July 2011; Accepted 30 September 2011

Academic Editor: Frank Oswald

Copyright © 2012 Charles A. Emlet and Joane T. Moceri. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to further elucidate the importance of social relationships and social connectedness with aging in place and in developing elder-friendly communities. The process used in this study was inclusive of younger adults (age 40–65) as well as older adults (65+) in order to further understand how they envision a community that could support their own aging in place. A community forum, using the World Café format, was conducted in order to engage community members, 40 years and older, in conversation about the importance of social connectedness in elder-friendly communities. A second purpose of this forum was to obtain data on what would keep aging boomers in their community as they age. Three major themes emerged from qualitative analysis of the forum: social reciprocity, meaningful interactions, and structural needs/barriers. The results of this study reinforce the importance of social connectedness in creating and maintaining elder-friendly communities for older adults, as well as soon-to-be retired individuals, wishing to maintain life connectedness to their community. The study suggests the possibility of using more nontraditional research techniques (such as the World Café process) for gathering community level data.