Montpelier Senior Center

A Bone Builders exercise class is held at the Montpelier Senior Center this past Friday.

MONTPELIER — A survey of the Montpelier Senior Activity Center finds overwhelming satisfaction with its services among seniors.

The survey, which was mailed out in May to over 1,700 current and recent MSAC members and also posted online, was completed by 399 people (a 23% response rate), of whom, 98.7% said they were current MSAC members. For many survey questions, the resulting report also distinguished the results for respondents aged 75 or older (33%) from the overall survey population.

The survey asked if respondents were MSAC members; how long and how often they went to the center; how they learned about MSAC events, services and activities; and what was the focus of their MSAC classes or activities over the past year, among other things

The survey also asked a series of questions about how they benefited from MSAC services, and asked respondents to rate the center and its services. Other questions on the survey concerned age, gender, ethnicity, housing status, household income, financial security, internet and social media proficiency and to identify their hometown.

Of 399 responses, 51.4% and 40.5% over 75 said they been going to the center for one to five years, while 16.4% and 25.4%, respectively, said they had been going to the center for more than 10 years.

Asked how often they went to the center, the highest number and frequency, by far, was 48% of respondents who said they visited two to four times a week.

Demographically, 26% of overall respondents were age 65 to 69 and 26.5% aged 70 to 74. Respondents at the center were 79.6% female, followed by 19.8% male, and 75.4% over 75 were female and 24.6% male.

An overwhelming 97.4% identified as white, 1.8% as other, 0.5% as Native American and Hispanic or Latino, 0.3% Asian, while none identified as African American.

On housing, 84.1% owned their own homes and 14% rented. Asked about occupancy, 51.8% of overall respondents lived with a spouse or partner while 39.2% lived alone, 5.5% lived with family and 3.4% lived with people not related to them. For people over 75, 53.7% lived alone, 37.2% lived with a spouse or partner, 5.8% lived with people not related to them and 3.3% lived with family.

On annual household income, more than a quarter of all respondents said they preferred not to say, while 21.2% of overall respondents and 17.6% of people over 75 said they earned over $75,000 or more — the highest percentages in the income range.

Similarly, 53% of overall respondents and people over 75 said they met their expenses by following a budget, while 40% and 44%, respectively, said they easily met their expenses.

Asked where they lived, 67.5% of respondents said Montpelier, followed by East Montpelier (10%), Middlesex (5.9%), Calais (4.8%), Worcester (2.2%), Berlin and Northfield (1.9%), Barre City and Barre Town (1.1%), Plainfield (0.8%) and Marshfield (0.3%). Another 1.6%, collectively, showed that one person each, came from Brookfield, Hardwick, Hyde Park, Waitsfield, and two from Woodbury.

Asked how they learned about MSAC events, services or activities, the majority of overall respondents (54%) said they got their news from the MSAC email newsletter while 48.8% of people over 75 said they got their news from the MSAC printed newsletter. The Times Argus ranked as the highest commercial publication for news about the center. Word-of-mouth and friends also accounted for a significant number of respondents in how they heard about the center. A vast majority of respondents said they had a computer and used the internet, email and Front Porch Forum, while just over half of all respondents said they used social media.

When it came to preferences, 63.5% of overall respondents and 56.8% over 75 said they used the center most for physical fitness and movement classes, followed by music and film studies (26.1% and 27.1%, respectively) and arts and crafts (22.9% and 11%, respectively). A wide range of other popular activities and events that respondents identified included group presentations and discussions, the FEAST meal program (which included home delivery), group trips, volunteering, the book library and the tax assistance program.

The majority said overwhelmingly they enjoyed learning new things, have more options on how to spend their time, see friends more often and make new friends, and feel less isolated and more socially connected.

The percentages for the overall satisfaction with the center and its cleanliness, warmth, comfort, knowledgeable and friendly staff, exercise and fitness programming, and educational presentations, classes and events were all in the high-90 percentiles.

Of MSAC’s nearly $600,000 annual budget, 25% comes from tax appropriations from Montpelier and surrounding towns, 27% from class and trip fees, 15% from FEAST meal program fees and 12% from investment, trust and interest revenue.

MSAC Director Janna Clar credited MSAC Advisory Council member Mary Carlson for her work on the survey and report. Clar noted that the survey was largely “positive” and “reinforced our understanding that we’re generally doing very well in meeting our missions and people are really grateful for the opportunities to engage in socialization, movement classes and lifelong learning.

“So many people gave comments speaking to how important this community is as a place where they can really keep their minds sharp and keep physically engaged. Quite a few people talked about this being the center of their social life,” she added.

Clar said that at the end of the last fiscal year, membership was approaching 1,200.

To view the full report, visit https://bit.ly/2mvRQVy

stephen.mills @timesargus.com

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