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F.I.S.H. releases results of senior needs assessment

By F.I.S.H. - | Sep 24, 2021

In April, F.I.S.H. of Sanibel-Captiva released a survey to 3,000 random households aged 55 or older across Sanibel and Captiva addressing an array of topics related to living on the islands.

Funded by the Charitable Foundation of the Islands and facilitated by Polco, the Community Assessment Survey for Older Adults was a national benchmark survey to gain a clearer understanding of the needs currently being met and gaps in services to the aging population of both islands.

The objectives of the survey were to: identify community strengths in serving older adults; articulate the specific needs of older adults in the community; estimate contributions made by older adults to the community; and determine the connection of older adults to the community.

“The growth and development of our senior services is one of our main focus points and gathering this data is extremely important to our future planning,” F.I.S.H. Executive Director Alicia Tighe Orgera said.

While nearly all of Sanibel and Captiva’s older residents gave ratings of excellent or good to their community as a place to live, other significant findings included:

– About 40 percent of respondents reported caring for another person and older residents averaged between eight and 17 hours per week providing care for children, adults and older adults.

– About one in five older adults felt emotionally burdened by their caregiving and 12 percent reported being physically burdened.

– About 70 percent of respondents were fully retired, and about one in five reported not having enough money to meet their daily expenses. One-quarter of the residents reported problems finding work in retirement and a similar number had problems building skills for paid or unpaid work.

– While over 95 percent rated their overall mental health/emotional wellbeing as excellent or good, only about one in four older residents felt the availability of mental health care was excellent or good.

– The most commonly cited experiences with mental health issues included dealing with the loss of a close family member or friend (32 percent), feeling bored (28 percent), and feeling lonely or isolated (27 percent).

– One-third of respondents reported at least minor problems with having adequate information or dealing with public programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

– About 14 percent of respondents reported spending time in a hospital, and one-quarter had fallen and injured themselves in the 12 months prior to the survey.

As a benchmark, Sanibel and Captiva were compared against other regions’ and cities’ results to the same survey. In most areas, the islands were given higher ratings by residents than national averages.

F.I.S.H. plans on meeting with stakeholders on Sanibel and Captiva to discuss the findings and work toward making informed decisions on issues or topics relating to the islands’ senior demographic.

“We’re so grateful for the financial support and thoughtfulness CFI has in learning more about we can better serve our seniors,” Orgera said. “This information is a big step in our process of identifying needs and tailoring our services to our community.”

To view the complete survey results, visit fishofsancap.org.