Document Type

Master's Culminating Experience

Publication Date



This community assessment uses the concept of “H-NORCs” or Healthy Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities as a framework to analyze supports for aging (Masotti, Johnson-Masotti, Fick, & MacLeod, 2006) in Kettering, Ohio -- a first tier suburb of Dayton where the proportion of people over the age of 60 was 23.8% in 2010. In this study, I used focus groups and interviews to collect qualitative data on five H-NORC attributes: (1) economic policies that benefit seniors; (2) types of transportation support for seniors; (3) neighborhood design for physical activity; (4) opportunities for social integration and sense of belonging; and (5) health services. This study finds that Kettering is a regional support center for senior activity. City provision of senior services, volunteer opportunities, and regular exercise locations were perceived as protective of elder health and wellness. Participants perceived community outreach for citizens as a means of promoting health and longevity. Recent municipal projects demonstrate commitment toward improving neighborhoods to increase physical environment supports for aging in place according to H-NORC themes related to Universal design principles such as bicycle paths and sidewalk improvements. Still, it is important to note that although transportation services showed robust regular use by a small number of Kettering seniors, nearly all participants reported a lifelong relationship with driving that influences activity level and ability to participate in senior activities. Overall this study finds strong evidence of H-NORC qualities in Kettering related to economic policy benefits, sense of belonging, access to culture and service provision for seniors in the community. This study also suggests that H-NORC qualities related to physical supports in the built environment might be revised to more closely address Kettering’s suburban context.