Fairfax County Neighborhood & Community Services: Protective Factors for Successful Aging

In 2021, Fairfax County’s Health and Human Service’s Neighborhood and Community Services (NCS) agency invited the Center for Social Science Research (CSSR) to assist county efforts to develop an evidence-based framework to reduce risk factors and increase protective factors to support older adults’ well-being in Fairfax County. Since 2021, CSSR has partnered with the county to identify the protective and risk factors that influence successful aging among older adults, and the system level community-based interventions that promote these factors, conducting a scoping review in Phase I to identify a U.S. based body of evidence of successful community interventions to reduce social isolation, enrich social connectedness, social contribution (volunteer and civic action), enhance a sense of meaning and purpose, and protect against health declines associated with aging. Based on systematic review of literature the research team developed and presented an evidence-based model to identify community programs and interventions that promote protective factors and reduce risk factors for older adult well-being to the county. The conceptual model and scoping review were also presented at Eastern Sociological Society Meeting (March 2023) by Eliz Storelli and GRA Kellie Wilkerson. Currently, the scoping review is being developed as an article to submit for publication to either Activities, Adaptations, and Aging Journal or Journal of Aging and Health. In the second year of the project (AY 2022), during Phase II, the CSSR team conducted focus groups with county stakeholders to assess model applicability to Fairfax County. A revised model “5 to Thrive” was presented to county representative last year. In Phase III, we continued to work with the county on this project, consulting on a capacity map (service inventory) as the county moves toward adopting the model we developed.