A research group from the Gerontology Institute at the University of Massachusetts Boston has teamed up with two area towns, Cohasset and Hingham, to conduct research projects meant to contribute to town decision-making about the aging-related needs of the communities. Jan Mutchler, professor of gerontology at the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, is the project director; Caitlin Coyle, MS, and Hayley Gravette, MSW, current students in the Gerontology PhD program at UMass Boston, are assisting her. Research materials have been developed in consultation with Michael Milanoski, Cohasset town manager; Coral Grande, director of elder affairs for the Town of Cohasset; and Barbara Farnsworth, director of the Department of Elder Services for the Town of Hingham.
“Our goal is to learn about the needs of the towns’ residents for senior services, and to understand the kinds of programs and services that may be valued by town residents,” Mutchler said.
An important component of both of these projects is a community survey conducted in October and November. In Hingham, this survey will be given to a random sample of residents age 45 and over (about 3,400 people). In addition to the survey in Hingham, key public officials will be interviewed regarding their departments’ perspectives on future aging issues the town will face. Also, focus groups of residents in Hingham will be conducted after the survey is complete to verify findings.
The community survey in Cohasset will be administered online to all residents over age 18. For those without computers or Internet access, there will be a few days in which the survey will be administered by the research team publicly in town. In addition to the survey, interviews with peer community leaders will be conducted by the Gerontology Institute research team. The purpose of these interviews will be to gain knowledge on best practices of the provision of aging services and senior center utilization. The overall purpose of these research projects is to prepare both communities to take active steps in addressing the future needs of older adults and to make both Cohasset and Hingham strong and vibrant communities for people of all ages.