Participation in community activities through Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC) Supportive Service Programs

Emily A. Greenfield, Rebecca L. Mauldin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Naturally Occurring Retirement Community Supportive Service Programs (NORC Programs) constitute a national model in the United States of America that aims to benefit older adults ageing in place in their own homes and communities. One central aspect of NORC Programs is the provision of community activities to facilitate older adults' connections with others. Guided by ecological systems theory, we explored from older adults' perspectives what influences their participation in the community activities offered by NORC Programs, as well as the meaning of the social contact that such participation affords. We used data from an in-depth interview study with 41 older residents across seven NORC Program sites in the greater New York City area. Themes regarding influences on participation included individual circumstances (personal desire for social activity and health status), programmatic factors (relationships with staff and appeal of the activities) and community contexts (appeal of the other attendees). Perceptions of other attendees also emerged as an influence on the social effects of participation, which ranged from experiencing social contact alone to creating independent friendships. Overall, findings indicate that programme features combine with individual and community contexts to influence diverse experiences of community activities. In addition to implications for organisational practice, we interpret the results in terms of directions for future research regarding how community-based organisations can influence social integration in later life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1987-2011
Number of pages25
JournalAgeing and Society
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


  • age-friendly community initiatives
  • community participation
  • ecological systems theory
  • loneliness
  • naturally occurring retirement communities
  • qualitative research
  • social activity
  • social integration


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