Staying Connected: Recommendations by Older Adults Concerning Community Leisure Service Delivery

Communities have long recognized their role in supporting and assisting older adults by offering information and services to meet their needs and address challenges of aging (United States Older Americans Act of 1965). Involving community members in the research process, often referred to as community-engaged research, is a valuable strategy for improving health (Clinical and Translational Science Awards Consortium, 2011). Recently, our research team began a project to learn how to promote engagement of local older adults in places where they usually congregate (Dattilo et al., 2015; Dattilo, Mogle, Lorek, Freed, & Frysinger, in press). We wanted to understand older adult health concerns and develop programs that assist them in maintaining health and pursuing leisure. During focus groups and a public meeting conducted during 2014 and 2015 in rural Pennsylvania, the research team listened and learned about concerns related to challenges of aging and the pursuit of healthy lifestyles that embrace leisure. Through this community-engaged process, the team gained insight into ways to improve service delivery and develop effective programs. The purpose of this paper is to present a synthesis of recommendations made by this group of older adults for developing and providing age-appropriate resources and leisure services across multiple community settings. Participants requested informational resources and identified ways they wanted to have this information delivered; such information might assist service providers in identifying what and how to provide information to community elders. They described services of interest as they specified desirable program content, program site characteristics, and the social culture when they attend leisure programs. Data were analyzed across categories resulting in identification of themes that provided perspective on overarching participant concerns and orientations. Based on these results, leisure service providers are encouraged to help older adults’ access resources and services and demonstrate flexibility when attempting to facilitate such access. Once participants engage in programs it may be valuable to promote 95 Interventions and programs are not universal in their application across age groups. Programs that are effective with younger individuals may not be as effective with older individuals. Programs designed with older adults specifically in mind offer opportunities to meet the needs of this particular group. Leisure contributes to quality of life for all people (Iwasaki, 2006), and perhaps most especially those in later life (Nimrod & Shrira, 2014). Specific leisure pursuits such as Senior Games have been perceived by older adults to be beneficial to their self-esteem, general health, and physiology (Henderson, Casper, Wilson, & Dern, 2012). There is growing interest in the extent to which leisure can promote active and healthy aging. However, our knowledge about how adults who reside in communities maintain leisure engagement as they experience health declines associated with aging continues to be limited (Nimrod, Janke, & Kleiber, 2016). The World Health Organization’s (WHO) “active ageing” framework emphasizes the importance of providing opportunities for older adults to participate in the community in order to enhance quality of life (World Health Organization, 2002). Leisure provides a context to facilitate this community participation. Although community leisure service agencies have been providing opportunities for older adults to engage in their communities for many years, several barriers exist that have the potential to limit their engagement. Community barriers such as funding, and personal barriers such as limited physical mobility, may prevent older adults from effectively participating in leisure activities. In addition, as the population of older adults continues to grow and become more heterogeneous (Pardasani & Thompson, 2012), community service providers are challenged to provide respectful, high-quality, cost-effective services that meet the needs of the diverse population of older adults. A deeper understanding of older adults is required to understand how to serve their leisure needs. and support social connections as they experience enjoyment and meaning. Services that provide opportunities for self development that facilitate learning and growth were perceived as important. Overall, the impact of participating in leisure services may result in valued contributions that older adults make to the health and well-being of themselves and others. Information reported in this paper is specifically intended for leisure service providers to consider when attempting responding to the desires and needs of older adults that reside within their community



Work Title Staying Connected: Recommendations by Older Adults Concerning Community Leisure Service Delivery
Open Access
  1. Amy E. Lorek
  2. John Dattilo
  3. Jacqueline Mogle
  4. Sara Freed
  5. Margaret Frysinger
  6. Shang-Ti Chen
  1. Aging
  2. Focus group discussions
  3. Leisure
  4. Senior centers
  5. Community-engaged research
License In Copyright (Rights Reserved)
Work Type Article
  1. Journal of Park and Recreation Administration
Publication Date August 16, 2017
Publisher Identifier (DOI)
Deposited July 23, 2022




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Work History

Version 1

  • Created
  • Added 2017_Lorek_et_al._JPRA-Older_Adults.pdf
  • Added Creator Amy E Lorek
  • Added Creator John P Dattilo
  • Added Creator Jacqueline Ann Mogle
  • Published
  • Updated Work Title, Keyword, Publisher, and 1 more Show Changes
    Work Title
    • Staying Connected: Recommendations by older adults concerning community leisure service delivery
    • Staying Connected: Recommendations by Older Adults Concerning Community Leisure Service Delivery
    • Aging, Focus group discussions, Leisure, Senior centers, Community-engaged research
    • Journal of Park and Recreation Administration
    Publication Date
    • 2017-09-01
    • 2017-08-16
  • Renamed Creator Amy E. Lorek Show Changes
    • Amy E Lorek
    • Amy E. Lorek
  • Renamed Creator John Dattilo Show Changes
    • John P Dattilo
    • John Dattilo
  • Renamed Creator Jacqueline Mogle Show Changes
    • Jacqueline Ann Mogle
    • Jacqueline Mogle
  • Added Creator Sara Freed
  • Added Creator Margaret Frysinger
  • Added Creator Shang-Ti Chen