An Ecological Examination of Housing Situations and Preferences of Atlantic Canadian Senior Aboriginals, Individuals with Disabilities, and Persons of Ethnic Minority Status

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Nesto, Sue
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There are a growing number of seniors in the general population, and a portion of those older adults are considered vulnerable. This research specifically examines housing issues of Atlantic Canadian Aboriginal Elders, seniors with a disability and older individuals of ethnic minority status whose needs differ from that of the Canadian senior population. Secondary data provided a sample of 1,702 seniors randomly selected from the Atlantic Canadian population who completed a survey and 123 focus group participants considered to be vulnerable. Using a mixed methods approach, an ecological perspective was applied to the data to determine the characteristics, situations, and preferences of vulnerable older adults in Atlantic Canada, and the linkages between housing choices and environment. Qualitative results of the study indicated that many vulnerable seniors felt disrespected by society, and were fearful with regards to the future. Current homes were inappropriate and many vulnerable seniors desired an affordable, spacious, accessible, and energy-efficient home, in an attractive environment, and close to services. Support of family, friends and neighbours, and having adequate finances were found key to allowing seniors to age in place. Furthermore, the availability of services can positively or negatively affect the ability of vulnerable senior to remain independent and age in place. Quantitative data showed that the majority of vulnerable seniors investigated have an affordability problem since they require repairs to their home, and spend 30% or more of their income on housing costs. It was further discovered that a significant portion of Aboriginal Elders and persons with a disability spend 40% or more on housing costs. Seniors’ Housing iii While some findings were consistent with that of previous research, two unique findings for these susceptible groups were forced relocation and the effect of events in the exosystem such as: government regulated policies, programs, grants and fixed incomes; community organizations and services; advocacy for seniors; and safety in the community. Research findings and subsequent recommendations can be used to develop appropriate, suitable and affordable housing in future years.
Older People with Disabilities , Atlantic Provinces , Housing , Minorities , Elderly Aboriginals