The Society for Social Work and Research

2014 Annual Conference

January 15-19, 2014 I Grand Hyatt San Antonio I San Antonio, TX

Exploring the Landscape of "Community" in Aging Research: Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches

Friday, January 17, 2014: 8:00 AM-9:45 AM
HBG Convention Center, Room 103A Street Level (San Antonio, TX)
Cluster: Organizations, Management, and Communities
Symposium Organizer:
Terri Lewinson, PhD, Georgia State University
Joan Davitt, PhD, University of Maryland at Baltimore
There has been increasing attention among policymakers, researchers, and practitioners alike on how communities potentially influence individuals' health and well-being. This area has become a substantial focus within gerontology especially, as there is increased effort to strengthen communities to better meet the needs of this rapidly growing population. This panel presents new research that seeks to add depth and breadth to the literature at the interface of community practice and gerontological social work research. Using diverse methodological approaches, each paper explores different types of communities across varied regions of the United States to advance understanding of the processes through which different aspects of communities influence important outcomes for special populations of older adults.

Using data from a sample of older Mexican American men in Houston, Texas, the first paper describes the use of geographic information systems (GIS) to explore the communities of adults who inject heroin, and specifically how drug treatment services located in their communities may impact drug abuse behavior. The second paper uses survey data from older workers in the Northeast to explore the mechanisms through which workplace-based communities affect individuals' psychological well-being, for better and for worse. With specific attention to older adults in naturally occurring retirement communities in New York, the third paper uses a grounded theory approach to explore how supportive relationships among neighbors might contribute to aging in place. Finally, drawing on photo elicitation interview techniques with older adults residing in budget hotels in Georgia, the fourth paper will describe perceptions and the personal significance of “micro-community” affiliations.

A discussant will help to reiterate patterns of similarity in findings that emerge across these papers, while also identifying issues that are unique to the particular contexts and methodologies of each study. Implications for community practice and future community-focused research with diverse subgroups of older adults will also be discussed.

* noted as presenting author
Exploring Community and the Spatial Accessibility of Drug Treatment Programs for Aging Mexican American Heroin Users
Dennis Kao, PhD, University of Houston; Luis R. Torres, PhD, University of Houston; Erick Guerrero, PhD, University of Southern California; Rebecca Mauldin, University of Houston; Patrick S. Bordnick, MPH, MSW, PhD, University of Houston
Informal Support Among Neighbors in Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities in New York
Emily Greenfield, PhD, Rutgers University; James Fedor, Rutgers University
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