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July 21, 2016

Is Ohio Age-Friendly? Older Adults Speak Out

More than 69,000 people aged 60 and up live in Cleveland, and this number is expected to grow as people live longer. Perhaps not surprisingly, these residents have a “wide range of characteristics, abilities, strengths and needs.”

In 2016, the city of Cleveland released Age-Friendly Cleveland Summary: A Report for the Center for Community Solutions, which takes an in-depth look at how age-friendly Cleveland and the surrounding areas are in the following areas:

  • Outdoor spaces and buildings
  • Transportation
  • Housing
  • Social participation
  • Respect and social inclusion
  • Civic participation and employment
  • Communication and information
  • Community support and health services

Here are highlights, both about what satisfies older adults, and what worries them. 

Outdoor Spaces and Buildings

Many older adults identified parks as assets, but some lack access to them, with 48 percent saying they aren’t within walking distance to well-maintained, safe parks. A lack of sufficient benches was also noted. Twenty-eight percent said that there aren’t enough conveniently located parks.

Public buildings are largely considered accessible, although public restroom access is limited and long lines are sometimes a concern. Some older adults will not attend an event because of restroom-availability concerns. Fifty-one percent say that there aren’t places to sit in public areas.

Added concerns include the poor conditions of some sidewalks; when there is snow or ice, this adds to safety risks. Other concerns include abandoned or otherwise vacant properties because of how these buildings negatively affect property values, plus related safety issues.


Most older adults in Cleveland (78 percent) have few or no difficulties getting where they need to go; 68 percent drive themselves. Signs are typically easy to read and speed limits are usually enforced, but road conditions can sometimes present an obstacle to easy transportation. Seventy-five percent state that accessible and convenient public transportation is available, although scheduling difficulties were noted. Concerns include riding with school-aged children, the safety on buses and trains, and the need for more security.


In general, older adults “feel positive about their current housing, their ability to pay for and maintain that housing, and the areas where they live.” Eighty to eighty-five percent agree with these statements:

  • “I am able to maintain the inside of my home”
  • “I feel safe in my home”
  • “I am able to afford my current housing”

Focus groups cite home maintenance as a concern, especially the outside; only about half of Cleveland’s older adults feel able to maintain the outside of their homes. They share safety concerns when completing routine maintenance, with snow removal frequently mentioned. Additional issues include knowing whom to trust when hiring for maintenance. Although there are maintenance assistance programs available, they come with challenges, including:

  • Services provided were not adequate or were limited
  • Services were unreliable
  • Eligibility requirements were too stringent
  • It isn’t always clear how to apply

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