Community Assessment

A livable community assessment begins with assessing the needs of the community creating the plan. This can be done using the Aging in Place Components [link to other part of site] and the Aging in Place Scorecard [link to list below]. Other assessment tools are available from:

Partners for Livable Communities Blueprint for Action

AARP Evaluation Tool for Livable Communities

EPA Smart Growth Livable Communities Guide

Gap Assessment

Planning often starts by identifying the gaps in current services relative to the community’s current and future needs. In order to identify gaps, two main types of data are needed: data on services, and data on the population:


Service Data



Population Data


Finding and Using Demographic Data

Reasons for Collecting

Types. Breakdowns by 5- or 10-year age groups, cross tabulations by income, gender, or other



Note: both the Census and the Adirondack Regional Assessment Project Report CD with information on each town include housing and population data.

Location data is useful to identify residences of people in need of assistance in case of emergencies

GIS data. Used by some towns

Service provider mapping

Data Collection Tools

In some cases, additional information may be desired on the community’s needs and perception of services. Common methods for collecting data include:

Using Focus Groups – For an excellent introduction and detailed guide to carrying out focus groups from North Carolina State University professor Carrie Zelna, click here.

Sample Livable Community Survey Tools

Sacandaga Task Force on Senior Living [] conducted a brief community survey in 2008 that helped them define priorities for action

Michigan Community for a Lifetime [] created in 2006 by the Michigan Commission on Service to the Aging, surveys 10 areas defining elder-friendly communities

Traverse Livable Community Survey [] developed in 2005 by the Traverse City, Michigan Community Initiative, served as the basis for the Traverse City: Aging in Community Model and Action Plan For other stories on Traverse City

Walkability Survey Tools [] is dedicated to increasing walkability in communities of all types. Here is one tool developed by the group

Kansas City has also created a walkability survey for its neighborhoods to use.

Aging in Place Score Card

1. Community is friendly to people of all ages

__ Elders are able to enjoy a fullness of life, living independently in residential settings of their choice, for as long as possible

__ Community recognizes that each person has an immeasurable value and innate dignity that is not diminished by socio-economic factors, mental or physical deficiency, or by age

__ Holistic care is provided to addresses the intellectual, physical, social, emotional and spiritual needs is available to each person

__ Compassionate and empathetic interest and concern for elders is expressed through companionship, friendship, counsel and assistance as needed

__ Elders are integrated into the life of the community

__ Elders and infirm living independently are connected with their community through active supportive relationships with family, friends or friendship volunteers, and are able to participate in and maintain a sense of belonging to the community.

__ Organizations provide programs for elders and all organizations make special efforts to include elders in their activities and to foster intergenerational programs that benefit from the interests and talents of elders

__ Housing, public and commercial facilities, as well as transportation and services are designed to accommodate the needs of elders.

2. Health and Human Services

__ Access to health care options that meet a variety of needs

__ At least one primary care physician for every 1,000 residents (of all ages)

__ Exercise and wellness programs, including programs for health concerns such as heart disease

__ Free preventative screenings

__ Nutrition classes for specific health/financial needs

__ Communal meals at a recreation/senior center

__ Meals delivered to homes

__ Local parks and other exercise venues are accessible through several modes of mobility

__ Inexpensive transportation services offered to and from health care facilities

__ Information about health and wellness programs is easily accessible

__ A single entry point or one-stop-shop for resources and services

__ In-home support services (e.g., home care) enable older adults to live independently

__ Projects coordinated by local government, Area Agency on Aging, other organizations

3. Transportation and Mobility

__ Streets have larger signage, left turn lanes, and clear road markings

__ Varied types of community transportation options

__ Public transportation for senior centers, adult day services, grocery stores, faith communities, cultural events

__ Sidewalks and street crossings safe and accessible (bump-outs, crosswalk countdown, island in middle of street)

__ Sidewalks link housing and essential services for walking residents

__ Residents walk or use public transportation for grocery store, doctor’s office, pharmacy

__ Bus stops are enclosed, have seating, and post timetables

__ Programs to increase public transit ridership by older adults (travel training, route and service adjustments, low-floor buses, discounted fares)

__ Community audits its walkability and improves pedestrian and bicycle access accordingly

__ Comprehensive land use plans coordinated with transportation planning

4. Public Safety

__ Most older adults say they feel safe living in our community

__ Elder abuse/neglect identification and prevention

__ Neighborhood Watch programs

__ Specialized training for frail elderly

__ Plans for evacuation of older adults in a natural disaster or homeland security emergency

__ Police and fire departments actively focus on preventing injuries and threats to older adults

__ Law enforcement and fire department employees receive training on how to be sensitive to the changing needs of adults as they age

__ GIS layout/ knowledge of older adult residences in case of severe weather or other situations that prevent residents from leaving their home

5. Housing

__ Home maintenance and repair assistance available

__ Skilled, reasonably priced home modification and repair services available to residents

__ Service modification for older adults (snow shoveling, backyard trash collection)

__ Subsidized housing facilities

__ Most housing is accessible or visitable and accommodates the needs of aging adults

__ Impact on local property taxes of high percentage of fixed income citizens addressed

__ Housing codes that meet the needs of an aging community

__ Assisted living options available and affordable

__ Many households headed by seniors paying over 30 % annual income on housing

6. Finance Services

__ Tax relief for older adults with limited incomes

__ Education and information about financial fraud and predatory lending

__ Discount options for transportation

__ Discount options for other public services

7. Workforce Development

__  Job retraining opportunities

__ Flexible job opportunities

__ Job banks for older adults

__ Discounts for older adults who want to take classes at local colleges/universities

__Bi-lingual classes for non-English speaking older adults

8. Civic Engagement and Volunteer Opportunities

__ Opportunities for older adults to volunteer

__ Intergenerational volunteer opportunities

__Volunteer opportunities for older adults to serve as mentors or share their expertise

__ Cultural opportunities reflect ethnic and demographic differences

__ Central clearinghouse that people for volunteer opportunities

__ Older adults on government advisory boards and other committees

__ Local community organizations provide volunteer opportunities suited to older adults

__ Older adults been surveyed about their volunteer interests

9. Culture and Lifelong Learning

__ Community library delivers books to people in their homes

__ Community centers or other public facilities offer programs on topics of interest to older adults

__ Community provides opportunities for lifelong learning

__ Low-cost programs in computer skills available and marketed to older adults

__ Residents of all ages, backgrounds, and cultural interests can actively participate in the civic and cultural life of the community

10. Public Policy and Zoning

__ Zoning requirements and building codes support the development of active older adult communities

__ Zoning requirements and building codes support the development of assisted living facilities

__ Zoning requirements, subdivision regulations or building codes that promote/support other senior housing options (flexible housing arrangements, shared housing, accessory apartments)

__ Plans to ensure all land use patterns, transportation routes and community facilities meet the needs of an aging society

__ Zoning allows mixed-use and pedestrian-friendly development in appropriate areas such as town centers

__ Comprehensive plan allows needed adjustments in land use to accommodate aging population

__ Residents can safely and conveniently get needed goods and services without having to drive

__ Most residents understand the process by which decisions about development are made,

__ Most residents consider the process fair and predictable

11. A Good Place to Grow Up and Grow Old

__ Local leadership strives to promote interaction between all generations

__ City understands that universal design concepts not only aid a specific demographic, but society as a whole

__ Local government acts as an advocate and catalyst for developing partnerships, new programs and systems to aid and engage their older adult constituents

__ Cities and counties are harnessing the talent, wisdom and experience of older adults to contribute to the community at large

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