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2004 CAAR Grand Strand Older Adult and Retiree Needs Assessment Survey: Initial Results

About the Sample:The CAAR bought a mailing list of all Horry and Georgetown County residents who were at least 55 years of age as of March, 2004, which produced almost 45,000 names and addresses. Due to budgetary and staffing constraints, in April we mailed the four page OA/R (Older Adult and Retiree) Needs Assessment Survey to one-third of that population, or just under 15,000 possible respondents. As of July 1, we had received 1032 completed surveys, representing 6.93% of the sample. For unsolicited mailed surveys like this one, a 5% response rate is not uncommon, so although we would have preferred a higher response rate, the quantity of replies was acceptable, and the quality of responses to the survey's 86 questions and ratings was very good. Thus, this very rich data set is made up of over 60,000 individual scorable items.

To determine the geographical representativeness of our sample, we tallied the number of replies from each of the South Carolina Grand Strand's 13 approximately equally populated zip codes. At least 10 responses were received from all of the zip code areas except one (29544 = Green Sea/Floyds in the far western section of Horry County). The number of replies from each zip code ranged from 10 (in both Andrews and Aynor) to 191 (Pawleys Island). Further analysis of these data showed that 933 responses (90.4%) came from the high density retiree coastal sections of both counties and southeastern Conway, with only 99 responses (9.6%) coming from the agrarian inland sections of Horry and Georgetown Counties. This analysis was confirmed by the results of question #1 (Q1) of the survey which asked if the respondents were natives of the Grand Strand or not. Some 90.1% of the respondents said they were not natives, leaving only 9.9% that were born here. Thus, since 2000 census data show that approximately 70% of Horry and Georgetown Counties are natives and 30% are not, these survey results are much more representative of the relatively recent and rapidly growing in-migrant population than they are of the Grand Strand's native population.

In other demographic categories, the survey sample proved more representative. There were only slightly more male than female respondents (53.7% to 46.7%, respectively). Their average age was 69.5 years. And other than the overrepresentation by Pawleys Island respondents (191 replies = 22.9% of the sample identifying their zip code), the other zip codes followed actual population distributions fairly closely (e.g., 195/23.4% from Myrtle Beach, 148/17.7% from Conway, 89/10.7% from Murrells Inlet and Garden City, 59/7.1% from Little River, 56/6.7% from North Myrtle Beach, and 31/3.7% from Georgetown; with 197 respondents not providing their zip codes).

Taking all of these descriptive demographic statistics into account, the sample of Grand Strand OA/Rs responding to our needs assessment (NA) survey were significantly overrepresentative of the population living in the coastal versus inland regions of the two counties, and significantly overrepresentative of in-migrants to this area rather than natives. For in-migrant OA/Rs living in the coastal regions and southeastern Conway, however, we have collected a very rich data set.

About the survey instrument: Anticipating the likelihood of not getting a high response rate, we designed the survey to elicit an unusually rich quality of responses from those who replied. The questionnaire was divided into three main sections: quality of life (7 questions, which assessed the respondents' reasons for relocating to the Grand Strand and their most important likes and dislikes about their life here); needs and interests (28 questions about respondents' daily activities and what they'd prefer to be doing with their time); and educational interests(39 questions about the role of education in the respondents' lives at present, and what they'd like to do in the future). The remaining 12 items solicited personal contact, demographic, and contact information.

The Survey Results:In order, the survey's questions and both quantitative and qualitative results are as follows. (NOTE: There are different percentage bases because not all respondents answered all questions.)

Q1. Are you a Grand Strand native? 102/9.88% Yes; 930/90.12% No

Q2. If not, how long have you lived here? Average = 10.74 years

Q3. What state did you formerly call home? 41 states and 4 foreign countries were represented, with the top ten other states being New York (156), New Jersey (110), Pennsylvania (85), North Carolina (76), Maryland and South Carolina (74 each), Ohio (66), Virginia (39), Connecticut (37), West Virginia (26), and Michigan (22).

Q4. The 3 most important factors are moving to the Grand Strand? 82.8% of respondents said weather (27.6% of total responses); 44.7% said the beach/ocean; 39.6% said economic factors (cost of living/housing, lower taxes, etc.); 27.0% said to be close to family and/or friends; 23.7% said golf courses; 15.6% said for other recreational amenities; 13.8% said for the more relaxed but active lifestyle; 13.2% said for the beauty or location of the area. The remaining 13.2% of responses fit other categories.

Q5. How would you evaluate your current quality of life? Average = 5.41 on a scale from 1 (very poor) to 6 (very good).

Q6. What 4 things do you like most about your life here? 77.5% of respondents said the weather/climate (19.4% of total responses); 64.6% said social relationships (friends, neighbors, their community, etc.); 58.3% said recreational activities and amenities; 46.3% said the beach/ocean; 26.8% said economic factors (cost of living, taxes, etc.); 25% said golf; 23.7% said the area's lifestyle/culture; 14.4% said being close to family; 14.1% said convenient resources and services (especially medical services and facilities) and the natural beauty of the area/environment (a tie for 9th most important factor). Some 8.8% of responses cited other factors as most liked.

Q7. What 4 things do you dislike most about your life here? 79.7% of respondents (19.9% of the total responses) said crowded and dangerous traffic; 38.8% said economic factors (e.g., few jobs, low wages, high insurance costs, cost of living, etc.); 38.7% said transportation problems (e.g., too few and poor roads, no interstate access, few airport and flight options, etc.); 22.8% said motorcyclists and biker weeks; 19.8% said too rapid and uncontrolled growth and development; 18.8% said fear of hurricanes, storms, flooding; 18.3% said local and state politics and politicians; 15% said being too far away from family and old friends, and local pests (e.g., fire ants, mosquitoes, flies) and pollen (a tie for 8th place); 12.1% said weather (especially summer heat and humidity); 10.9% said southern culture (e.g., dislike of northerners, biases, "still fighting the Civil War", etc.); and 8.3% said increasing damage to the natural environment. Some 69.5% also had other complaints, headed by the Grand Strand becoming too overcrowded, tacky commercialism of some areas, poor quality of repairs and services, poor medical services, rude/obnoxious Northerners, rising crime rates, the poor quality of local media, billboards and other unattractive signage, lack of upscale shopping options, and the Burroughs and Chapin Company's influence on the area. Some 37 respondents stated that they had no dislikes whatsoever about the Grand Strand to report.

Q8A. How often do you participate in the following activities? From most to least frequently reported, in average times each year: watching television (335.62); using computer (248.63); exercising (240.69); using the Internet (238.63); reading books (213.55); doing hobbies (213.22); recreational activities (198.02); working in the yard or garden (137.77); visiting others (130.28); golf and other sports (105.79); religious activities (97.37); shopping (85.31); going to the beach (81.12); eating out (79.39); working/employment (70.40); educational pursuits (68.10); playing cards or games (53.05); volunteering (48.59); home repair and remodeling (36.82); travel and trips (22.25); job training (18.02); attending the arts/exhibits (15.45); attending entertainment shows and attractions (14.77); fishing and hunting (10.29); attending a senior center (6.03); attending a community center (5.18).
Q8B. Other activities involved in? No other activities were reported by 10 or more respondents, indicating that Q8A covered the range well. The highest numbers of other activities reported were cooking (5), music (5), walking (5), and sewing/crocheting/ quilting (5). Most of the "other activities" reported actually fit under the categories in the previous question.

Q9A. What activities/interests/events would you most like to participate in but presently do not? Over 30 categories of different activities and interests were reported, with the top ten being: educational/informational activities (n = 142; 14.4%); golfing and other sports - especially bowling and tennis (142; 12%); travel (78; 7.9%); volunteering/service provision (49; 5%); arts and crafts (47; 4.8%); recreational and entertainment events (43; 4.4%); musical activities (39; 3.9%); fishing and using computers (both 35; 3.5%).

Q10. What would be required so you could participate in those activities? Over 20 categories of constraints were reported, with the top ten being: wanting discounted or free costs (n = 107; 18.6%); making activities closer/more convenient (101; 17.6%); younger age/better health (72; 12.5%); more spare time (68; 11.8%); more self-motivation (38; 6.6%); more activity/scheduling information (30; 5.2%); a group or company to participate with, and help with transportation (both 26; 4.5%); less time spent working (19; 3.3%); better options and opportunities, and more or better facilities and equipment (both 10; 1.7%).

Q11.A.1. Have you had any contact or interaction with Coastal Carolina University in the past three years? 368 respondents said yes (36%); 653 said no (64%).

Q11.A.2. Briefly describe that contact. Over 20 categories of contacts were reported. The top ten types of contact were: continuing education/lifelong learning short courses (n = 78; 21.3%); sports events and cultural or entertainment events (both tied at 44; 12%); lectures/informational programs or meetings (38; 10.4%); took a regular course (15; 4.1%); served as a faculty or staff member or retiree, or only had a communication (both 14; 3.8%); did volunteer work at the university, or are related to a student, faculty, or staff member (both 13; 3.5%); did swimming or other exercise (12; 3.3%).

Q11.B.1. If yes, how would you rate that interaction with CCU? Average rating = 5.36 on a scale from 1 (very poor) to 6 (very good).

Q11.B.2. Explain the basis for your rating: 182 respondents gave explanatory comments; 72.4% were favorable; 9.9% were negative; and 17.7% were ambivalent, neutral, or irrelevant to the question. The top five categories of positive responses were praising the quality of CCU faculty/staff (n = 42, 23.1%); general positive impressions of their CCU experience - e.g., "I enjoyed it." "I like education." "It's never too late to learn". (36; 19.8%); good topic/content/performance (25; 13.7%); CCU personnel were welcoming/friendly/helpful (14; 7.7%); and a good learning/intellectual experience (11; 6.0%). No negative response category totaled more than 6 (3.3%), which was CCU failed to follow through or cancelled a request or event.

Q12.A.1. Have you had contact or interaction with any other educational institution in the past three years? 288 respondents said yes (28.9%); 710 said no (71.1%).

Q12.A.2. Briefly describe that contact. Respondents reported 18 different types of contact. The top ten responses were: being an instructor or staff member (36; 17.1%); taking continuing education courses (34; 16.2%); took a course (32; 15.2%); doing volunteer work - tutoring, mentoring, etc. 8.6%); attending a food-oriented event (17; 8.1%); consulting or advising (10; 4.8%); a relative attends (9; 4.3%); communication only (8; 3.8%); attended a cultural event (6; 2.9%); am an active alumnus (5; 2.4%).

Q12.B.1. How would you rate that contact? Average = 5.29 (out of 1 - 6).

Q12.B.2. Explain the basis of your rating. 135 respondents gave explanatory comments; 66% were favorable; 9.4% were unfavorable; and 24.5% were ambivalent, neutral, or irrelevant. The top five categories of positive responses were praising the quality of other institutions' faculty/staff (n = 26; 19.3%); general but vague positive replies (22; 16.3%); a good learning/intellectual experience (14; 10.4%); other institutions were welcoming/friendly/ helpful (11; 8.1%); and feeling positive about specific miscellaneous aspects of the experience (10; 7.4%). No negative category exceeded 10, with general negative comments being highest (8; 5.9%).

Q13.A.1. Have you received informational or educational services from any other organization in the past three years? 246 said yes (25%); 737 said no (75%).

Q13.A.2. Briefly describe that experience. Twenty different categories of activities were reported, the top ten being: took a continuing education short course - mostly from Linda Ketron's C.L.A.S.S. program at the Litchfield Exchange (37; 23.7%); communication only (24; 15.4%); Senior Center activities (22; 14.1%); attended a training or informational program (15; 9.6%); attended a cultural event, or did consulting/advising (both 7; 4.5% each); participated in a service organization (6; 3.8%); attended a sports event, or volunteered (both 5; 3.2% each); arts and crafts (4; 2.6%).

Q13.B.1. How would you rate that contact? Average rating = 5.28 out of 6.

Q14.A.1. How interested are you in interacting with Coastal Carolina University in the future? Average rating = 2.32, where 1 = not interested and 4 = very interested.

Q14.A.2. Explain the basis for your rating. 19 categories of responses were reported, the top ten being: general interest in learning/remaining intellectually sharp (110; 30%); negative responses - mostly saying not interested in further education because of advanced age or poor health (79; 21.5%); take a regular course (51; 13.9%); take a continuing education course (48; 13.1%); attend a cultural event (18; 4.9%); teach a course or continuing ed course (15; 4.9%); attend a lecture/informational program (10; 2.7%); attend a sports event (9; 2.4%); CCU is close by/convenient (6; 1.6%); complete my degree (4; 1.1%).

Q14.B.1. If you are at all interested in interacting with CCU in the future, please indicate what you would most like to do by rating options 0 (= not interested at all) - 3 (= very interested). From most to least interested, the responses were: attend an arts exhibit/performance (average rating = 1.98); take a continuing education short course (1.61); participate in less formal learning experiences (1.58); attend a sports event (1.54); attend a social event designed for older adults (1.46); join an educational peer group - e.g., Elderhostel, or get advice/counseling about smart aging/retirement (both 1.04); audit a regular undergraduate course (0.89); provide instructional support - e.g., as a guest lecturer (0.78); audit a regular graduate course (0.74); take a regular graduate course for credit (0.38); take a regular undergraduate course for credit (0.36); complete my undergraduate degree (0.24); complete my graduate degree (0.19).

Q15.1. Please describe any obstacles that would prevent you from interacting with the university by rating options 0 (= not a problem) - 3 (major problem): From most to least important obstacles , the responses were: Costs/expenses (average rating = 1.42); travel distance to Conway (1.33); don't know about university courses/events (1.18); takes too much time/effort (0,88); need transportation assistance (0.83); not interested in any further education (0.75); the university offers nothing of interest to me (0.49); building access/sensory aid concerns (0.41); don't feel welcome at university courses/events (0.31).

Q15.2. Other potential obstacles or problems are: health problems (24; 18.1%); no spare time (19; 14.3%); too old (16; 12%); travel/transportation problems (11; 8.3%); bad traffic (9; 6.8%); negative feelings toward CCU - e.g., for putting student housing in residential neighborhoods, too much expansion, traffic, etc. (8; 6%); caregiving responsibilities for spouse/parent (7; 5.3%); lack of motivation (5; 3.8%); won't do nighttime activities, and concerns about parking at the university (both 3; 2.3%).

Q16.1. If you are not interested in any of the courses or events offered, is there anything the University can do to change your mind? Yes = 307 (52.7%); no = 276 (47.3%).

Q16.2. CCU could…? 17 categories of responses were offered, the top ten being: free or discounted costs, and bring courses/events closer to where I live (both 101; 18.8% each); send me a newsletter (97; 18%); provide special courses and events for older adults (63; 11.7%); provide assistance with transportation (35; 6.5%); send information about courses and events (26; 4.8%); provide easier access and/or sensory aids (24; 4.5%); provide a schedule of courses and events (20; 3.7%); provide a map to courses and events and parking for them (13; 2.4%); change my age and/or health, and provide distance learning opportunities online (both 8; 1.5%).

Q17. Name(s): Of the 1032 survey forms returned, 233 were unsigned (leaving 828 signed). Of those 828 signed forms, 226 reported joint responses from both spouses, so this study actually sampled the opinions of a total of 1258 individuals.

Q18.1. Present age(s): 846 respondents reported their ages, which averaged 69.49 years.

Q18.2. Gender: Where it was clear, gender was inferred from the respondents' names. Of the 862 instances where that was the case, 463 (53.7%) were male and 399 (46.3%) were female.

Q19. Home Address: 821 respondents provided home mailing addresses.

Q20. Home Phone/Fax numbers: 732 respondents provided home phone numbers; 96 provided home fax numbers.

Q21. Home E-mail address: 417 respondents provided home e-mail addresses.

Q22. Annual Income: Average annual income reported was $50,040.

Q23. Annual Expenditures: Average annual expenditures reported were $38,900.