PKS Senior Survey Results

Man leaning over to boop his long haired black and white cat

We all feel it – even if we choose to ignore it: Aging is a fact to be reckoned with. As we age, our independence is threatened.

For some, a change in situation (e.g., a loss of a job, illness) can lead to a change of residence.

We wanted to know what challenges/fears PKS residents have to overcome as well as those they anticipate as they get older and want to continue living here.

In a March meeting, Brian Kramer, John Brodman, Charlie Rocci and I agreed to keep the conversations going that began in 2014 when the PKS Board of Commissioners resolved to support Pine Knoll Shores as an ‘Age Friendly Community’ and the pre-Covid traditions of the Age-Friendly Advisory Committee.

Importantly, we want to move forward with community input. We all agreed that challenges are best met when like-minded individuals come together and work toward a shared vision.

The Survey

In May 2022, a single question survey was emailed to all who have requested to be on the town manager’s all hands email list.

Nine-percent of the 1800 (139 residents) chose to share their answers. As we were interested in creating a comprehensive list of issues, we wanted to hear from everyone – all ages, full time residents and part time, caregivers and residents in need.

Ages ranged from 11 y.o. to 65+ (average age was 68).

The question was designed to identify barriers to staying in PKS as we age:

What challenges have you faced – or anticipate – that would interfere with your ability to age successfully in this community?

Grouping like comments suggested 6 broad categories shown here in order of the most often mentioned to the least. See the complete list of all responses.

Mobility/Transportation

Issues related to mobility/accessibility in and around town, the island and off island. Individuals expressed a strong need for regular/scheduled ‘public’ transportation to doctor appointments, pharmacy pick-ups, veterinary appointments and grocery shopping. Not only was the need related to basic requirements, but to social opportunities as well. While several currently face the challenge of getting around, many fear the loss of driving privileges as they age.

Safety In/Around Town

Comments related to mobility/safety in and around town.

Responses referenced the need for sidewalks and crosswalks on Rte. 58.

Our beach is a key feature of living here; Safely going and coming to the beach is top of mind.

The expressed challenge: ‘Being able to walk to the beach safely without the availability of a sidewalk or a wide flat surface on Salter Path Rd. to access the crosswalk.’

There was also an interest in marked bike lanes and several mentioned a general safety concern for children. Perceptions are that increased traffic has complicated walking safely.

Healthcare Options

Residents commenting on this topic were critical of local medical offerings.

They want more specialists, more trauma care options, and more professional health care workers nearby.

One resident expressed a fear that he may need mental health care as he aged and it would be difficult to find.

Obviously, transportation issues play a role in the need for access to sought after medical care.

Home and Yard Maintenance

Of all the issues, this may be the easiest to impact.

Property owners have a variety of needs related to their home, e.g., storm preparation and recovery, reliable/affordable indoor and outdoor maintenance, getting trash containers to the road, and even needing help understanding building regulations.

Social Isolation

Eleven of the 139 respondents fear or are experiencing social isolation.

Most often cited in this regard is the lack of a community center where residents can casually gather with emphasis more on interaction with neighbors than specific activities.

Some see a community center as an alternative to the more expensive local country club.

Left to themselves, some find it difficult to meet others while some respondents note in the number of full-time residents to look out for each other.

Taxes and Insurance Cost Concerns

Increasing taxes/property taxes and the cost of living in general were mentioned specifically.

With the survey results in hand, 8 full time residents of the community – a mix of men and women, new comers and long-term homeowners – came together to discuss the category groupings and responses to add a depth of understanding to the issues.

Drawing on their personal experiences and knowledge of community resources, each contributed to a discussion of possible solutions. The few solutions offered by the survey respondents were also discussed.

It was clear from our discussion that many of our residents do ‘give back’ whether they are asked or they see an opportunity.

There is a genuine interest in helping others.

Also, there are many services and activities in the area that most are not aware of that can address key concerns.

Some needs may be met by simply making residents aware of the services that current exist.

Pair of gloved hands using a gardening trimmer by greenery

Next Steps

We agreed to start here:

Service Provider Database

We committed to creating a data base of service providers with their contact information.

Inputs would come from a variety of sources, e.g., individuals from the discussion group, the online PKS Community, the Next Door online community, any resident.

John Clarke designed a Google form that could be used whenever any one of us had an experience with a service provider – good or bad – that would guide an individual’s decision.

Using the Shoreline as an awareness builder, we would advertise its availability and ways to access it. We will also highlight resources that most may not be aware of.

Ideally, this list would reside on the PKS website (I’m seeking approval). Exchanges and updates would be electronic. A link could be added to the PKS Community Facebook page.

Hard copies of ‘the list’ would be available for distribution at Town Hall.

The initial list would include contact information for areas of concern uncovered in the survey, e.g., grocery options, pharmacies, transportation options, etc., with priority given to local PKS service people and recommendations drawn from direct experience.

This is a work in progress. Announcements will be made when a list is finalized for distribution.

Next Steps

Please let me know if you are interested in becoming a part of this neighbor-helping-neighbor network by July 29, 2022.

Build the List of Service People

Building the list of service people involves getting to know your neighbors, making them aware of this effort and providing contact information for service workers with which you have had a good experience or from those you have received good reports.

Expand Discussion

Expanding the discussion of aging issues in PKS. Building on the survey responses and knowledge of our community, I’d like to create an advisory council to expand the discussion of ways we can positively impact the quality of PKS life for our senior citizens.

The council would also serve to inform and guide the Town government on key issues keys.

Feedback

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