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Phil Stafford
Center on Aging and Community

Last modified: Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Older Hoosiers remain politically active

Oct. 29, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A far-reaching survey of Indiana residents age 60 and older reaffirms the high level of civic activity engaged in by this population.

Conducted by researchers at Indiana University, the telephone survey of 5,000 older Hoosiers revealed that 85 percent had voted in the previous local election. Moreover, nearly four out of 10 seniors had contacted a local representative to express a concern or state an opinion.


Photo by: Monty Howell/Herald-Times

A woman prepares to vote in Monroe County, Ind.

Print-Quality Photo

In Indiana, there are nearly 975,000 residents in the 60-plus age group. As participants were selected randomly, the findings can be seen as representative of the entire population in this age group.

While the majority of older Hoosiers took the time and energy to participate in civic life, a fairly high percentage, 25 percent, felt that local policy makers don't take into consideration the interests of older people, or even of all residents.

"Older Hoosiers contribute an incredible amount to the life of their communities," noted Indiana University researcher Phil Stafford, the director of the survey project. "Eighty-nine percent of this group made a donation of money or goods to charity and 380,000 older Hoosiers volunteer on a weekly basis in their communities."

When asked about their primary goals, 94 percent indicated they would like to remain in their current residence for as long as possible, yet 39 percent were not very confident that they would be able to afford to do so. "Despite the Madison Avenue images of sun-seeking seniors flocking south, the vast majority of elders want to stay put. Given the many, many contributions to their communities, it behooves us all to figure out ways to make that happen," said Stafford.

The survey, sponsored by the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration's Division of Aging, was conducted in the spring of 2008. The survey has been conducted nationally, in 30 U.S. communities, providing baseline comparisons around 33 different indicators of an "elder-friendly community."

The Indiana AdvantAge Initiative is the first statewide application of the planning model and has received additional funding from the U.S. Administration on Aging, Indiana Area Agencies on Aging, the Daniels Fund of Denver, Lilly Endowment Inc., and the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community's Center on Aging and Community. For more information about the survey and the AdvantAge Initiative project in Indiana, visit